My son traces the bird claw,
his left hand holding the black marker
like a magic wand that will fuse life and death
right in front of my skeptical eyes.
Upstairs, on my desk, my father’s poems wait
as fragile as the butterfly wings
pinned to my son’s bedroom wall.
Each night, I slip upstairs to these poems.
I type their words, my fingers tracing my father’s,
rhymes about swamps, night skies, and lost love
flashing fast and black on my computer screen.
On his desk, my son keeps a cat skull
in a box that delivered a Mother’s Day orchid.
Sometimes we take it out and marvel at it.
I remember my son pulling it from a pile of leaves,
his hands holding up this perfect specimen.
I remember my mother handing me my father’s poems.”
Bird in Flight
by Felicia Mitchell
There is a bird nest
where other women would keep porcelain,
crystal, Hummel figurines.
Next to a child’s plaster of Paris mask.
Above an old wallet.
Some ghost bird has been flying
in one house, or another,
for almost fifty years.
My mother is never lonely.
When a cricket sings in her house,
I hear about it in a letter.
Every time I visit,
I leave with another treasure:
Colonial silver, blown glass water pitchers,
my father’s frayed nightcap.
A bag of tomatoes.
She does not want us to clean house.
By the time she dies,
there will be little left: a bird nest,
an old wallet, lipstick on the bathroom counter.
We will bury the nest with her.
Her bird will fly.”