*First published in sage cigarettes journal: Fall, 2022

Making Your Bed


I find myself making your bed this morning.
Lately I can’t accept its rare mussiness
the way I did before.

The quilt we had the Amish lady make
lies cross-ways, not covering the pillow

The sheets are wrinkled, the way
Imogen Cunningham squished hers
before taking that photograph I love.

Stopped by a spot of blood, I remember
you’ve started the pill. Who will you meet?
Who will you love?

I find a way to tuck your stuffed toy
bumblebee, the prize you won
at the county spelling bee,
between the throw pillows.
I never noticed her eyes.
She looks up slightly,
like you did at the bees.

And the plush otter, from the
Monterey Aquarium, fits
below it on the lace pillow
Mother left me so long ago.

Fluffing the pillow makes me
realize you’ve done this
all these years, yourself.

Five more months until college.
I can’t go with you.



About The Author

Some of Donna Emerson’s publications include Alembic, Avatar Review, CQ (California Quarterly), CALYX, The Chaffin, Chicago Quarterly Review, Denver Quarterly, Dos Passos Review, Eclipse, Edison Literary Review, El Portal, Evening Street Review, Existere – Journal of Arts and Literature, Fourth River, Fox Cry Review, Front Range Review, The Griffin, Grub Street, The Healing Muse, Lips, The London Magazine, The Los Angeles Review, Louisiana Literature, The MacGuffin, Marin Poetry Anthology, The Meadow, Naugatuck River Review, New Ohio Review, Nonconformist Magazine, Paterson Literary Review, The Paragon Journal, Passager, Pennsylvania English, Persimmon Tree, Poetry Porch, Praxis: Gender & Cultural Critiques (formerly Phoebe), Quiddity, Sanskrit, Slipstream, Soundings East, So To Speak, The South Carolina Review, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Spillway, The Spotlong Review, Studio One, Stone Canoe, Summerset Review, Verdad, Weber—The Contemporary West, and Westview.

Emerson’s work has received numerous prizes and awards including Editor’s Choice in the 2017 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award and honorable mention in the 2015 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award, two nominations for the Pushcart Prize (2013, 2019), and Best of the Net (2012). Her second chapbook, Body Rhymes (2009), nominated for a California Book Award, and third and fourth chapbooks, Wild Mercy (2011) and Following Hay (2013), have been published by Finishing Line Press. Her work can also be seen in anthologies such as Echoes (2012), Keeping Time: 150 Years of Journal Writing (Passager Press), Chopin with Cherries, A Tribute in Verse (Moonrise Press), Music In The Air (Outrider Press), The Place That Inhabits Us: Poems of the San Francisco Bay Watershed (Sixteen Rivers), and Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California (Scarlet Tanager Press). Emerson’s first full-length poetry collection, The Place of Our Meeting, was published by Finishing Line Press in January 2018 and nominated for the California Book Award.