I leave the window open on a grey February day
And when I’m not looking, in comes the bird.
Not a white dove like my namesake, or a graceful sparrow, or a wise owl,
Rather a mangy seagull from the docks.
It circles around my living room, increasingly confused and panicked,
Forgetting how to fly and alarming concerned onlookers.
Then swooping into my gaping, horrified mouth,
Down the alimentary canal and becoming wedged stuck in my chest.
Unable to stretch its wings, the frightened gull batters against the sides of the rib cage
And like this, the caged bird stops any singing.
It drops shit into my stomach pit and pecks the walls of my heart
Faster, faster, faster so I can hardly breathe.
The bird sees only danger, hears only ticking clocks, smells only burning
The bird avoids cracks in pavements, and returns lids to jars
The bird turns off lights, and seeks symmetry in pattern
The bird likes the hi fi set at an even, never an odd, volume
The bird clusters objects so that none appear lonely and they sit in groups
The bird locks doors twice, the bird doesn’t like being touched
The bird is awake at night with its constant squawking for air and sunlight
The bird has to be gotten out to set us both free.
So I reach my hand down inside, as if to make myself sick, and pluck bone and skin
Like a reluctant fire-eater extracting a carcass of fringed barbs
An oily pool of feather, mucous and beak congeals on the floor, reassembles, fixes a vengeful stare with beady eye, then flies away
To rejoin the flock.
I exhale and close the window.