In every story the girl who doesn’t become a woman becomes
a deer. A crystal. A column of salt. The state of her own sleep,
stretched beyond the borders of logic. I too have tried to follow
directions. Directives. I have tried not to ask what is the difference
between, tried to be buttoned and twinset, vanished bra strap,
swan with no memory of cygnet, cygnet with no hope of swanning.
To be both the river and the ash. In every story the girl who does
become a woman becomes a clock. This is in fact what story means
by “woman”: a beauty of courses, pearlescent, a porcelain hollow
in which time lives with its tick, gun lives with its pressure against
the temple. To be a woman is to have hands capable of carrying
anything but that which is her own. Better to be the deer standing
velvet against a fringe of trees. Better the body sleeping decades
on the bower, better the blank before waking, the only world
where a woman’s mind is unbodied, where a girl can be her own.
Emma Bolden is the author of a memoir, The Tiger and the Cage (Soft Skull), and the poetry collections House Is an Enigma, medi(t)ations, and Maleficae. Her work has appeared in such journals as the Mississippi Review, The Rumpus, StoryQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, New Madrid, TriQuarterly, Shenandoah, and the Greensboro Review. The recipient of an NEA Fellowship, she is Associate Editor-in-Chief for Tupelo Quarterly and an Editor of Screen Door Review.