Swathed

By Katrina Roberts

–golden shovel after Galway Kinnell’s “Prayer”

Little bird, you thought yourself such a bright liquid force,
warbling. Whatever
seed you scavenged, you worked to crack its tough shell.
Nothing happens

without reason, right? But what of that hometown kid, askew
on the dirt? Whatever
happened so his track-star heart stopped pumping? Non-native,
you’re nesting in what?

A traffic light, bleeding lurid green, yellow, red, 24/7?
Passers-by merely glance. Is
this it? They’ve dubbed you “junk bird” at Audubon, eager
for handouts & grease. Is

desire always greed? A flame-breasted robin yanks a pliant
grub until it gives. Is
there a way you could have flown closer to the sun? If you had
a single wish, what

would it be? Beneath covert feathers, your pale down rustles
with mites. When I
lean to fix my sight on your beady black eye, a mirrored face
gapes back. Want

is a fuel, but also grinds; some dreams crumble to dust. A
mother’s hand; if only
one could lift us all softly who’ve fallen, press us there into a
flat swathe of sky, that

filthy glowering dun gum eraser. I could throw myself into a
plate glass pane, but
would anyone stop? A gob, a bloodied tuft, a jagged bone, a
gust of breath, only that.