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 music to be set to 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, assembles itself back together, fixes a vengeful stare with beady eye, then flies away-

To re-join the flock.

I exhale and close the window.



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