Nicole Rollender

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  Summer Life | Cindy Rinne

     Natsumi  Summer Life | Cindy Rinne

Sky Burial

In Tibet, the deceased is dismembered by a rogyapa, or body breaker,
and left outside to be consumed by birds.

The songs of whales
through palm

floating rice
trees gathering letters

wife, how she
flowers, breathes

reliving me. How she
of water. Monks

back into who made
juniper smoke lullaby

Bone-breakers draw
its stories, eat dismember.

, sky dancers
pulp, bone flour

black wings raised
tendon shadow

words I said to far-
a friend still

how in sky
gather return

corn tassel herd
two lovers walking

its landscape lonely
as this vanishing

dream my breaking
bones pounded,

boat over snow,
about Buddha’s

holds cremated
wing-sweet moths

understands loss
curl my body

the world, cloth white
before disassemble.

my body, quartering
To understand no

dissolve me, flesh
yak milk on stones

claws in my belly
hands smelling prayer

away cherry blossoms
coming over hills

my remnants wind,
as mare hoof

of buffalo
a churchyard

for my voice
holds us together.

Fire Burial

In Bali, the dead are buried and then unearthed to be burned,
since fire is the vehicle to the next life.

The last thing I held
roots lanterning

body flames rib-rooted
horses, my mingle

braided hair, stomach’s
bones, eye, bracelets

seeds and hay, teeth’s
remembering first

when hunger shoved
food in our mouths,

of desire. After
our wreckage,

in mangos. Babies
mothers searching

remember our fig-
off teeth, our bones’

My wrists loosen
me onto the pyre.

for this body
sent old men

healed grief
to be lifted back

into being useful
Let buried be

Let ignited be
cicadas singing

Give glory
that have taken

arriving in bone

was a song’s salt
uproot, earth-bitter

hooves of far winter
with dead wives’

open throat, finger
on pelvis, rice spills,

moon dreams of dogs
they were wolves,

a grieving season’s
hiding evidence

husbands dig up
they lay with us

crawl over dead
for nipples. They’ll

-dried lips smiling
loud knocking.

as thin men lift
What it means

that suckled babies
crying into eternity

by rocking
how women heal

dirt to sleep.
burn flowers up.

light speaking
liven firehairs.

these darkened scars
my whole death

shine before break.

Predator Burial

The nomadic Massai of East Africa don’t believe in an afterlife.

Livers float in neck bones

Carry persimmon seeds throatward

Feed wives flesh and grass

Light is stags free of sleeping

Caribou shoulder fire-cracked

Dismember anemones

He submerged me here to open

Hold shame under drowning


Burn the string of teeth

Deluge is black lines on women’s palms

Our bodies slide in wild mustard

Handfuls of frogs eat stars

Fractured water guides the hunt

The way he laid my bones

Bright marrow in horns

“I miss your wrists jangling”


Flowers dim the eggshell womb

The birth body is a box

Imagine the mud stench

                                                                                                                        I hunt the air river

There is light

There is light no more there

is light no more in bones                                

            wandering earthward


heart falling off the bone



NICOLE ROLLENDER is a southern New Jersey-based poet. She’s assistant poetry editor at Minerva Rising Literary Journal and editor of Stitches. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, The Journal, Radar Poetry, Salt Hill Journal, THRUSH Poetry Journal, and other journals, along with the Best New Poets anthology. She’s the author of the poetry chapbooks Absence of Stars (dancing girl press), Little Deaths (ELJ Publications) and Arrangement of Desire. Her chapbook, Bone of My Bone, is a winning manuscript in Blood Pudding Press’s 2015 Chapbook Contest, and is forthcoming later this year. She is the recipient of poetry prizes from CALYX Journal, Ruminate Magazine and Princemere Journal. Find her online at