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Judy Garland Speaks of Her Early Career

When I was three, my mother caught a bluebird
and stitched her into my throat while I slept, seam

of sinew sewn to wing. Blood pooled into my             pillow.
I woke with feathers shot through the sticky ropes       of my hair.

At first, I had trouble swallowing, but I learned to         gulp
around the beating-hearted bulge beneath my             chin.
When she sang, I turned mockingbird, mimicking
her muffled trills, the blue croon of her warbling.
At thirteen, I took off: landed job after job, chased
Benzedrine with Hershey kisses. On nights blurred
salty by vodka and sleeping pills, we'd hum lullabies
in A-minor and I'd finger the scars threaded to my neck,
the ones that held her inside me. At sixteen, I crammed my toes
into a pair of spangled silver heels, threw the deadbolt
across my trailer door. I pried those careful stitches out
with a rust-edged steak knife, and stained my shoes red
as she surged from my throat, wings oiled in blood,
song bright as polished tin. She was gone
when they found me, escaped through a back window.
She left me with a throat full of feathers
and my own precious, blue voice.

Emily Rose Cole's chapbook of persona poems in the voices of mythological and historical women, Love & a Loaded Gun, was released from Minerva Rising Press in 2017. Her poetry has received awards from Jabberwock Review, Ruminate Magazine, Philadelphia Stories, The Orison Anthology and the Academy of American Poets, and has been featured in projects like American Life in Poetry, Best New Poets 2018, and The Familiar Wild: On Dogs and Poetry. She holds an MFA from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and is pursuing a PhD in poetry with an emphasis in Disability Studies at the University of Cincinnati.

published in Snapdragon Journal, Winter 2015

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