A Bird in Hand

I’ve memorized its heart pounding into my thumb.
Breath buoys out. My fingers know how to kill,
closing on the bird’s slippery head.

I don’t remember. Was it that beak bit my chin?
Was it a claw cut my wrist? I blow feathers
away from its chest, smelling pennies and rain.

Skin like granite, a real white-blue, flecked
by knots of new growth. I found my need,
cold in cupped palms, just the way I was taught.

I return to account for whose neck falls around
backwards. Eyes that go cataract bring clouds.

That fat pearl with wings looks like water disappearing in me.

More by Amber Flora Thomas

Damaged Photos

You get into puddles with the sky
and when this fails
pit your girl against an ocean.

Choices blur and make off with rooms
in the whiteness. Winged enough to manage
your red kimono’s 37 cranes in various
trajectories while you make the coffee.

You as God with rattlesnakes
and His Admiral Death holding down the muscle,
headless and breath swollen.

You scattered in her facelessness
behind the screen door, not frowning, not joyous,
just working her hands in a dish towel,
folding them away.

You as ether, over-exposed bursting place,
dulling with these selves, spun by light and
dropped into shadow places,
forgotten as you put the photos down.
 

Headwind

Weak motion of grasses and tern before the sea.
Worry’s school cresting here and everywhere
as failings.
 
I pace the cliff path, my hands cupped above my eyes.
The glare steals your progress, a kayak needling
the wide open.
 
Love means you answer, this the child’s rebuke.
A pattern crosses the point, hemming
the horizon: steamship.
 
I didn’t know you were the green pitch
unable to beat the storm to shore.
You didn’t know I was the lookout.
 
Get accustomed to the sad girl picking you
out of the sea, the knot caught in her throat,
and the unraveling of her speech: an endless rope
thrown out of me.
 

Cupid

His wings rest at his feet.
His fists curl inside a brown paper bag.
The alert beak propped on his head

aims down the block into sidewalk pools
of streetlight. His red lips make plump
numbers. He has so much candy

the bottom bulges. A pumpkin arrives
on spindly orange legs, followed by
a skeleton crew of two with unkept

postures, baggy knees, and flaccid spines.
A ghost sidles up, his sheet belted,
a baseball cap holding sloppy eyeholes

in place. He hurries off with his posse
of short immortals, leaving the
wings where he stood.

The mother says, “Oh, look,”
disappointment as she brushes rubble
from feathers. She searches through streetlight

for her angel, holding the wings
so he’ll dig his arms through the straps,
shrugging on tonight’s beast.