I could not have been right with you drunk on your rightness, pointing from the driver’s seat at trees. They’re full of birds, you said, seems like hundreds. You always thought so: always on your tongue a thick door closing. Your family was mixing cocktails, fresh for our arrival. I thought of lime, the sting of it in cuticles, and how I loved them in my way: their red, thin-fleshed bobs the likeness of cardinals, bright birds whose inner light is snuffed. How in winter, everything prepares to disappear: clusters of not-birds in the sumac. I thought of you and of children in red jackets and velvet hair ribbons growing inside your family home, learning to sing excelsis to fill the halls with sound. Nothing there but angels winging, in bed before dark. Before invisible, nocturnal things come and disappear the seeds on their fur. Before the drop of them for hares and whitetail deer to mash to goodness in their teeth. I listened to you love birds you knew were no birds at all, watched you turn your eyes to the road. I thought ahead to the cleanness of bone in spring.
EMILY KINGERY teaches English at a small university in Iowa. Her work appears widely in journals, including Birdcoat Quarterly, GASHER, Midwest Review, Plainsongs, Quarter After Eight, Sidereal, and Trampoline, among others, and she has been the recipient of several honors in poetry and prose. Most recently, she was selected as the second-place winner in the Midway Journal flash prose and poetry contest, judged by Tiana Clark. She serves on the Board of Directors at the Midwest Writing Center, a non-profit organization that supports writers in the Quad Cities community (mwcqc.org).
Cover image by Dréa Collage
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