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.

Katrina Roberts has published four books and a chapbook of poems. Her manuscript Likeness was a finalist for the Pleiades Press Visual Poetry Series 2019. Her illustrations and graphic poems appear widely in journals and anthologies. She writes and draws in Walla Walla, Washington, where she teaches and curates the Visiting Writers Reading Series at Whitman College, and co-runs Walla Walla Distilling Company.