Nichole Ruth Cooley
The self I tried to stamp out will come back,
but I don’t know it yet. And I don’t know
what’s next, in this white room, the door just cracked
open enough to admit each long, low
moan from the next bed. Someone else’s pain
floods the hall like light. Now, for once, I don’t
write it down, don’t step outside myself, brain
releasing body, my mind letting go
of everything but thought. Instead, I’m here,
at the edge of the corridor of dark,
praying out loud to no one, no one near:
after her birth, when I am split apart,
let she and I be one, bodies pressed together
like the pages of a new book, unwritten, open forever.
Nicole Cooley’s first book of poetry, Resurrection, won the 1995 Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets and was published by LSU Press in 1996. Her novel Judy Garland, Ginger Love was published by Harper Collins (Regan Books) in 1998. Her second book of poetry, The Afflicted Girls, about the Salem witch trials of 1692, was just published by LSU Press. She is an associate professor of English at Queens College–The City University of New York.