Isaac Cole Guides the Oars


Emily Severance

Emily Severance has an MFA in studio art from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Camroc Press Review, Drunken Boat, Gargoyle, Juked, and Sisyphus. She teaches in New Mexico.

Convulsions at an end on the boat floor
Isaac Cole’s ensnared by death.

Limbs like a deer’s
no longer able to stand.

No, think tree instead–
stunted oak uprooted by storm.

We separate branches from trunk
peel off bark, hang the strips to dry.

The heart an abandoned hive
of honey each of us devours

before the cavity’s sewn
and trunk remitted to the seas.

We envision primroses and daisies
strewn across wave sinking bone,

wipe away the sap of mourning hours
heads shuddering but alive.

sun perforating sky
we hummed hymns long after the torso sunk,

commemorated labors of the swarm;
how many touches of flowers needed?

ten thousand stamens per bee, a thousand
bees for at least twenty years.

four days buzz from flesh
recruiting enough strength to regrasp the oars.

© Emily Severance

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