How to Walk a Tightrope by Emily Rose Cole

Start on the ground. Walk across a wide board. Take long, confident strides. Observe sparrows. Float on water. Attend the ballet. Stand on one leg for three days straight.

Fall in love with a rich boy. Crust your throat with rubies. Weight your wrists with gold. Ten times a day, ask him to lift you, broad fingers choking your waist.

Thread a rope between low stumps. Cut your feet. Succumb to gravity. Watch children spread their arms. Dive with your eyes closed.

Fall in love with a poor girl. Fill your pockets with empty shells. Weave rust blossoms into your hair. Ask her to teach you the language of crows. Swallow stones to improve your accent.

Ascend the highwire. Keep your spine straight as a spindle. Breathe into your feet. Make it halfway. Stagger. Listen to the audience pawing their chests.

Fall in love with the air. Understand that you have calloused your own skin. Grow wings. Clip them. Walk.

Emily Rose Cole is writer, folksinger, and MFA candidate in poetry at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Her debut solo album, “I Wanna Know,” was released in May of 2012 and is available on iTunes and Amazon. Last spring, she was honored to receive the Nancy D. Hargrove Editor’s Prize and the Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Gulf Stream, Weave Magazine, Jabberwock Review, and Ruminate, among others.

What person or thing gives you a sensation of floating?
Before I knew how to hold a pen, my first love was music. In church, when the organ blared and everyone rose from their seats, I felt like all those voices were lifting me up.

ArtPriscilla Boatwright is an illustrator and writer working in San Antonio. She is fascinated with myth, magic, and the connections between cultural identity and art. Priscilla received her BFA in illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design. See more of her artwork at

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