Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2018  Vol. 17 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Sentinel Species

But he shall let the living bird go out of the city into the open field. So shall he
make atonement for the house; and it shall be clean.
—Leviticus 14:53

A late, freak snow storms
the state, and the wren slips in—

who knows how?—its song
vivid and rapid in the dusky

house. Dark-eyed alien
on the kitchen curtain rod?

No reason for panic.
A bird in the house,

and soon its whole body
in your palm: crop and claws,

beak and bones, confetti-light.
You’ll collect each dropped

feather for fletching, for lures.
Small casualty of strange weather,

the wren craves berries
from the greening yard,

sunflower seeds on the windowsill,
a spider, cold-stunned. Force

open the jammed window, let wind
hold the door for this migrant,

this spring trap of sunlight and appetite
trailing the ecliptic, a night flier

without sky or flock, this wilderness
aloft in the storm-rocked house.  

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