The Birds Busiest Before Dawn

North Carolina, January 7, 2021

America, can you still hear us? Caged, mournful,
what songs echo empty streets after all ballots
have been cast? Crying to join a chorus that does not march,
conducts cacophonous chatter, forgets birdsong
in a forest of Babel, crows roosting on fenced streets.

I jump in a car, head south to meet the sun each morning,
pelicans plucking fish too shallow to survive
my own spine curved in a crescent
mimicking moon seasons with washed-up
gastropods, cuttlefish, ammonite, who know
I left the city too quickly, thinking water would save me

What are the dolphins up to this morning?
I wonder, both of us far from barbed wire,
armed or not, angry or not, ocean-less,
tripping on dry land the army of onlookers cannot
divide themselves from the body politic, seduced citizens,
a nation of tit worshippers shaking hips faster
and faster to squealing violins, out of tune trombones
playing anthems for the god of white liberty—
while underwater, creatures click to themselves deepwater
zen laughs at our din of bullets and ballots, defiant, endless noise.

White Space

This time
When you arrive,
I want to tell you everything
sitting cross-legged
on the bed we made love
(can we call it that?)
after so many years, isn’t it?
when you cross the threshold,
with raspberries, oranges,
sweets I suck on
after you’ve left pages
for me to flip through,
imagine you in their lines
white space—what of it?
enjambment is a learned behavior
each line a world
brings me closer
softly those lips
grow more familiar
breasts pressed against me
I expand my lungs
inhale the weight of you
letters too light, rare books
endless journals burning
yet, printed across your ribs
permanence my fingers brush
promise, to endure longer than poems
what love letter will we leave?
when the door shuts behind you,
dates in my fridge,
smells of you follow me for hours
through every lunar crest
some cycle we return to
sometimes I am dark
and you the light moon
showing faces to the world below
who thinks we are two phases,
my body a crescent in your arms.

The Duties of a Lover

The satisfaction of pulling down your mask. your face into mine,
quickly washing when you go. I wait to be alone. time when sun
streams. writing freely. a duty to myself. to celebrate myself.
sending emails from my nest. only for bird eggs and hatchlings
who happen to survive the spring fall. ground scavengers mad for
worms, insects, seeds. I’ve moved on. ready for the next season.
myself. glassed irises reflect every twilight. dropping feathers for
strangers to muse upon. carrying generations in my wingbeats. for
centuries I’ve built hangars in mountain passes. overlooks higher
than human lungs sustain. legs give up far below. craggy terrain
defiant to scrupulous steps. waterless bodies, these mountains. tear
up shoes. crack frail bones. little boys build camp sites. warm
flames, sedentary things. myself. careful to send cooling clouds,
rain showers, pull green tendrils from the earth for meals. lick a
little stardust. dance in a wide circle. grow up as basil beneath your
feet. myself. a hand you never held. scented, you fail to take me
with you. tremors quake. little fires lit quick. gulp the last of the
coffee. incense burned in the bathroom. door slams on the way
out. baby bird, what song? myself. exhale you in the smoke.

Leda Painted During the Pandemic
for Ilse

So in love with baby bird helping it
transition into the next life I missed.

six swans ruling Central Park’s Boathouse lake
slink past seven Contact Tracers,

white outstretched wings gilded with history
warring winter, frozen fires, all of us sitting

cross-legged on planting grounds stroking
soft soil where nurtured artichoke sprouts

might one day defy curfews like me,
an owl natural as night bellowing

black bodies be saved, richness restored,
I’m always dragging my Art around in cases,

never reading even a paragraph, writing
a single syllable before pouring protest energy

into the streets taking videos, photos, getting
sunburnt, saving baby birds from their nests.

Sara Cahill Marron is the author of Reasons for the Long Tu’m (Broadstone Books, 2018), Nothing You Build Here, Belongs Here (Kelsay Books 2021), and Call Me Spes (MadHat Press 2021), and is the Associate Editor of Beltway Poetry Quarterly. Her work has been published widely in literary magazines and journals such as Meniscus, West Trade Review, Cordella, Newtown Literary, and Lunch Ticket, and other anthologies, available at www.saracahillmarron.com.


Image by Miomir Magdevski, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

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