Published by Mwanaka Media and Publishing, distributed by African Books Collective





stillborn, you

were only the moment that took god’s breath away

early this year. no, all through the first hours of that new day

the lord could not breathe. nor could i,

looking at you, caught in the beauteous. but death betook us

not ungently, we fell into this spring storm

after the blue harbors of january, after i broke

silence to tell you how after all i felt

looking upon the realms of your eyes,

rimmed, dull in a senseless ire, the way they beckoned

to old universes and your body was like a wind

for and by no one, it summoned gusts:

something unknown in it. we met in that pale hour

and soon the fabric of the light, the world even

had come undone. but not me, and not you.

it was not snowing there when i wrote you,

the heavens were intact. the moon was mere spitting fire

and the sun, a white shroud enveloped in the snow cloud.

you were shut into the white sky of your beautiful mind

because you were afraid the only thing of you

might not be after all; you cared too much about the world

in your mind is beauteous in all its splendor of wintertime

dreaming. so i go to the wood to bury you, so i find

the imaginary bodies as they lie still and perfect and i

lift them naked into the stars with no brush of

touch to color them, no breath to bury them

as the living did. do i bury our stillborn moment, then?

do i cast the never end? into the sleeping carcass of the earth,

dressed only in snow? did i love you then to tell you

i’d be there for anything only to realize the awful nothing of it,

how when you finally could rest you fell upon my lap like the sweet child you are

and i cared for you, how i wanted to care for you but could do nothing so in that early hour i raised your head and left? is this love, then, an inscrutable burden, like losing the whole universe over and over?


someone left the hot water on too long. sometimes in the world it grows quiet but never so much as in my soul. there was nothing to become. you were and so was i. in the city of pigeons under the bridges the photographers are drenched in the wet and spray eyeing the under of brooklyn. i was in a fog after that first morning, watching the quiet sky blue and green and you were cold, the blanket barely about you so i tucked it in, ready to not speak to you for most of this new year your eyes are a sleep of a kind and turn different colors in the light the way you move is a message written to god and there are brief eclipsing letters all about your form and face the stories of how you decimated yourself and in surrender, rose up your eyes had closed over upon my lap and i moved gently away as though in the gaze of death but there was something beautiful about us that i could not say and in the cold morning i left.


Incredible songs of the heart

Botts is very well versed in poetry, and it brings a great flow to her feelings and emotions as she pens them in grand prose. The poems are deep within her heart, almost soulful, and she paints with words, flowing with a strong vibrant voice.  My favorite poem was the title poem “Epochs” as she writes “the earth is undone as the sky deepens into the real color.” Her voice is heard through the softest murmuring yet brilliant words.

-Writer Amy Shannon

   In poet and artist Elena Botts’ new poetry collection:  Epochs of Morning Light,                         we see a shimmering, variegated new voice; we hear:  “where the trees still talk to each other, and winter feels like a song…”  (from When I have died we will be here).                                                   

We feel the weather of her emotions; a contract with the ethereal and the visceral,                             as when we stand within the short but large poem: blossoms back to under the earth:                 “I felt your ghost move through me out past the Baltic as though you had been in my heart              the whole time.” In this sensual canvas, beauty never suffers from loneliness, nor the sublime.

Each poem herein as Botts wanders memory and weaves tapestries of word worlds,                        reveals a true and original voice in modern poetry: allowing light to conquer darkness; darkness to defy the estate of the sun, and colors mixed in ways only an artist of the pen could fathom.                      

If the poems in this collection defy conventional perception, they do so with feathered prophecy and wisdom that seems anachronistic for one so young!  Often, in modern poetry, pathology is glorified as if suffering is not universal in this troubled age. Botts surpasses longing and allows her reader to hike with her through urban gardens of people, and countryside, wherein their voices and afterimage are more than memory, but nearly a spiritual offering.

-Robert Milby

Hudson Valley New York poet,                                                                                                             Poet Laureate, Orange County, NY 2017-2019


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