That there are too many birds—I know this already.
But the buckshot-pierced dove’s open mouth

echoed my lover’s sleep-slackened jaw, so I
covered its body with leaves and swore off

my rifle forever. And if I decided love was possible
because her eyelashes iridesced like peacock feathers,

so be it. If a house sparrow arrives on my sill,
sprig of language pinched in her beak, who am I

to tell her no? The first time I saw the plastic owl
perched on my San Francisco rooftop, I circled

the building three times, awed by the fog-hazed
visitation. The window-stunned robin who hunkered

on my deck for hours—that she flew away meant
one thing, that she left a red stain meant another. 

“The Flock” from Showtime at the Ministry of Lost Causes by Cheryl Dumesnil, © 2016. Reprinted by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.