A Tragedy of Birds

Cadence Collective: Long Beach Poets

Floating Ladders3
By John Brantingham

Five years old almost,
out behind the farthest raspberry bush
in the backyard,
against the chain link fence
but cross legged,
and drowsed in the late August heat,
teaching myself physics by flexing
and unflexing the dead crow’s wing,
stretching it father each time
until it snaps off in my hand.
When it cracks, a spume of dust
forms itself into the shape of a kidney.
Little mites crawl on my hand.

Thirteen years old with a pellet pistol
and in front of friends.
I draw on the bird above me in a 17th century
duelling pose and fire, hitting the thing.
We watch it tumble out of the air
and onto the neighbor’s front lawn.
My buddy says “one shot”
with a kind of awe because we’d watched
The Deer Hunter on tape the day before.

Twenty-five years old just married
and cooking…

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