Bad Boats

Sharon Kennedy-Nolle

Rowboats on rocks,
silver bottoms up, in January,
shored hull to hull, say fifty?
Dad had turned over each
in hopes of finding you fetal
under one, dry, even safe.
Now the boats nose into my drydocked dreams,
a school of silver fish giving chase
to the nightly lie.
Nobody’s there, not even a throw bag for rescue.
But you would soon rise, eighty feet from shore
“Just like Jesus!” the well-meaning said, “think of Jesus.”
But that’s nothing to me
as I sit late in your shadowed room,
dark enough that I can pretend the pileup
of clothes, books, “personal effects”
still dumped on your bed,
going on three years now,
is your gentle, obdurate silhouette,
“only sleeping,”
so the other headstones say,
not rude enough to make a splash.




A graduate of Vassar College, Sharon Kennedy-Nolle received an MFA from the Writers’ Workshop as well as a doctoral degree in nineteenth-century American literature from the University of Iowa. She also holds MAs from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and New York University. Her latest book, Writing Reconstruction: Race, Gender, and Citizenship in the Postwar South, was the 2015 selection for the Gender and American Culture Series of the University of North Carolina Press. In addition to scholarly publications, her poetry has appeared in many journals. Her chapbook, Black Wick: Selected Elegies was a semi-finalist for the 2018 Tupelo Snowbound Chapbook Contest. Chosen as the 2020 Chapbook Editor’s Pick by Variant Literature Press, Black Wick: Selected Elegies was published in 2021. Kennedy-Nolle was winner of the New Ohio Review’s 2021 creative writing contest. Her full-length manuscript, Black Wick: The Collected Elegies was chosen as a 2021 semifinalist for the University of Wisconsin Poetry Series’ Brittingham and Felix Pollak Prizes. She lives and teaches in New York.