I am not formed in clay,
malleable to your touch.
You attempt to carve a statue,
a lover, you receive only ash.
I am not the idea you hold of me.
If we were close enough to touch
you would know my scales,
feel the goose flesh prickle your palm,
taste the burn on ready tongue.
I am not the stone set to sculpt;
the moment you hoped to freeze.
I soured, mildewed, rotted in the rain
and warped in the afternoon heat.
The thin paradise you formed
for us is mud never kilned.
It yields under thumbs.
Migratory wings stretch in foreign ways.
How can you say you love the arch of my neck,
when you’ve yet to see it sway loose against collar bone?
When I only now raise my head to
yield against curved grin?
Despite the lines around
my eyes, I have never
been looking for anything
Despite the nails
pierced through my feet,
I only want to soar
“Untethered” is previously published in September (2014).
He went to catch sparrows.
Carrying a battered birdhouse
and salted sunflower seed,
he climbed through broken barricades
with the confidence only a four year old can possess.
Using his forearm,
he pushed blonde fluff from his eyes
and peered up into stinging sunlight,
trying to catch a glimpse
of flapping wings against electric wires.
He didn’t bring home any sparrows.
Four days later,
against a concrete wall in a back alley
frequented by strays and vagrants,
you stumbled upon the tiny broken boy.
lips a bright pink,
cheeks a porcelain blue,
he looked as though he was ready
to wake for another day of play,
but when you reached to rouse him–
I remember the feel of his skin.
I expected him to be made of glass
like some doll dressed in blue.
I expected him to be warm.
the memory spills from sleep.
Twelve years old.
Alone in a sullied alley contaminated
with rusted cans, weeds, dog shit, food wrappers.
The echoing of October wind
or was it flapping wings.
when I close my eyes,
I recall the blue of cheeks
and a slight taste of metal in my mouth.
“Sparrows” is previously published in The Fall of the Sparrow (2014).
She swims inside fingerprints,
an idea so distinctly you.
A mirage reflected between hot streets
and flattering moonlight.
She is the dancer in my wooden box,
guardian of secrets
whispering her own;
I would be lying if I didn’t say
you haunt me from her eyes.
A memory of water in my desert.
Just an illusion of your fingers
tracing the life line in right palm.
She blends ribbons of perfume through the air
and insists she invented this for our pleasure,
but we both know better.
“Daughter” is previously published in The Fall of a Sparrow (2014).