I found a bird lying still, and I stumbled sideways, the way death
often makes us. The way it leaves a mark on even the smallest
among us: wing bent backward, head cocked too far
to be right. Pulled from the air, left in the leaves.
Every day I brought water to the impatiens struggling in the heat.
I stepped carefully and bent to peer at the body, four inches
of feathers brown as tree bark, a few shots of red
threaded through the wings.
Then the rain came and things grew without me. I watched
morning glories overtake the fence. I cut zinnias for the table.
I mowed the lawn and cleaned the garage and hosted cookouts.
I had my own summer and forgot. Until pulling weeds
on my knees, I found the skeleton tangled in the creeping Jenny.
The bones and joints like a pattern of candle drippings.
The skull, separate now. I picked it up
and held it in my palm
to inspect the watch-work jaw and nasal cavities, eye sockets, and beak.
I set it back among the leaves and imagined lying down, right there,
wingless and tired, ready for the lawn to unfold and gather me up
against the pulse and heat of earth.
Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 23, Issue 3.
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