blackbirdonline journalSpring 2011  Vol. 10  No. 1
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Bird Call

We lay there, nodding, playing the old game.

           Thrush, I said, eyes opened against sleep.

                      Hummingbird, hers.


                              Mother named us after birds—Dove, Starling, Sparrow, Wren—to keep

                                   together. “Her little chicks.” She called; we called back.

                                                                                                 We were young;

                                                                                                 we chased each other under

                                            her skirt. And when we grew,

                                                                            we grew together.

                                                                            We sat in the branches (kneecaps touching)

                                                          and tried to name as many birds

                                                                                       as barbules on a fallen feather’s vane.

                                                                                                                      Letters touching.


                                            Dodo sewn to hummingbird.

                                                  Ostrich, though born half-osprey. Then my plummeting

                                                          Hawk, chasing her

                                                                Kiwi. There were


                                                    so many in the way—each leaf a

                                                                            wayward face. Every name pricked me



                                                                    I thought, “i i i i i,”

I saw

                                   the slim needle of a beak opening to receive a worm,

                                                                                                          a crumb.



  one called


Lost, I had no answer. Nest

                     unsafed, left


elopement the only way.

                                                                    Ibis, she tossed me, re-knotting name

                                                                                  to name. We lay there.

                                                                                                             The old game.  end

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