From the Archive: Claire Caldwell (CAROUSEL 28)
The Summer of Dead Birds
It was the summer of cold hands.
We played bingo in the afternoons,
sipping cups of warm beer.
It kept the birds out.
The bartender slipped us sunflower seeds
in packets. They’ll grow in August, she said,
fingers flapping. Our mouths too full
The bird didn’t know it was being rescued,
the girl said. She hadn’t counted on the hot
struggle between cupped hands,
the bird twisting through its brokenness,
forgetting it at the sight of sky.
She hadn’t counted on that last, desperate
lunge. If it had known, she said, why
would it not have chosen to be saved
A night animal was leaving birds
at dawn, on my doorstep. That summer
I braided feathers through my hair:
I was in love. I was an
aviary. Each morning I rose
to the smell of pacing. I dug up
the garden and planted
the birds. I waited for rain.
I waited for August.
She said, cup your hands. Blow