I saw a small dead bird on its back
head and feet straight up, held
by pearl sewing needles
same shade as the eye sockets
empty and stuffed. American Robin
you said, answering your own question.
What kind of bird am I, pinned
by such beautiful sharpness? Immobile
under clean glass. You want me to lock arms
as we walk. Our elbows bend
like the legs of this hollowed out bird.
You don’t care who I used to be
but it’s important to identify:
rusty red, solitary, vulnerable.
I want to understand you, tell you
that in sleep you turn over onto me
and I have nowhere to go. I spin in place
on the edge of the bed, remember
lying on my back in the grass
watching a Great Blue Heron slide
across the sky like an arrow. You never knew
the cooing of the doves, the falcon
on the fence line, the small brown birds
on her window sill tapping the glass
in wild fits. You don’t want to know, you said
because you want to keep loving me.
Following the sound of the songbird in the bush
will flush it out, make it real.
You don’t ask questions
you prefer stillness. Bloodless
cotton pushed into my mouth
like an empty field.
—first published in Grist (Floating Bridge Press)