A Young Ruler in Wartime

From a distance, it’s hard
to tell whether she is glass
or glassine. In either case,
you might assume her epithet
to be The Unfortunate,
but you would be wrong.
Neither is she The Accursed.
No, this girl is Shockhead,
for no one sees her fragile;
they see her towheaded,
and through her,
lightning bugs seem to glow
with greater force.
No one thinks they’re a sucker
for the obvious, but it’s so
hard to listen past the mortars
when they fall. Don’t think
of her body as a form
perpetually on the verge
of fissure. She will be the one
to labor like a desert dog
to call the last cease-fire.


Brianna Noll’s first book, The Price of Scarlet, was the inaugural poetry selection for the University Press of Kentucky’s New Poetry and Prose Series and is forthcoming in Spring 2017. She is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Teaching and Mentoring in the Honors College at UIC, and she serves as Poetry Editor of The Account, which she helped found. Her poems have recently appeared in The Georgia Review, Passages North, Puerto del Sol, Hunger Mountain, and the Kenyon Review Online.


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