Beak

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.

 

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