The past lies in her hand like a dead bird, feathers spread,
feet covered in dust. It frightens her, but still she holds it.
Into the sadly turned nape, she reads her own failings,
in the steely blue-black wings, her own stiff desire, the need
she has to be held. This is ridiculous! she tells herself. Mad
flies circle her hand. I’ll change this, find something better—
a coin, a forsaken toy, a wildflower. Yet this dead bird becomes
so much a part of her—her lips now a beak, the turn of her head
a bob. Her mother a woman nesting on a couch. Her father
with eyes of sharp obsidian, blustering amidst a crowd
of strangers. A trill, whirs, a sharp chirp. There’s so much
grit in the years. This morning she looked at old photos,
starchy shots, her mother with a hand on her shoulder.
The day beckons. A car passes. The present squirms
like a deer mouse, pushing its nose on her palm,
deeper in color, insistent, perhaps kinder. Morning
split with bird calls, the underside of everything revealed.
About the Poet:
Judy Kaber recently retired after 34 years of teaching. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, both print and online, including Eclectica, Off the Coast,
The Comstock Review, and The Guardian. Contest credits include the Maine Postmark Poetry Contest, the Larry Kramer Memorial Chapbook Contest, and, most recently, second place in the 2016 Muriel Craft Bailey Poetry Contest. More of her poems can be viewed at www.judykaber.com.
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