I thought it was a bird. The skimmed rush. The hush as before a fowl fixes
its head up from shadow water
sickened by its own nature, narcissus-
reversed. unfortunate predatory
consequence. the luck. heron spots two ducklings nesting on an outcrop
Swift-like. heron bounces off the lake, a hollowed pebble. in one swallow
down. pulsing inside heron’s throat until they succumb. mama
mallard squawks and plods—helpless, she flies low
away. how long do mother ducks mourn—until the next day
next month, until pitch pines
or a naked beggar shakes on his kitchen floor like
breccia in a rainstick, begging: 2 bird bags, 4 quarters, 1 gram? His daughters
empty cupboards, offer open tin at his feet —eat, eat— until
heron comes. when sick,
fowl fit in veins like ducks in necks—vortex of sorts.
some knew this.
yet, none bothered to explain how
made him fly
well, less starved.
by Airea D. Matthews
Airea D. Matthews is a Cave Canem and Callaloo fellow, a 2013 Pushcart Prize nominee, and is currently a Zell Postgraduate Poetry Fellow at the University of Michigan where she earned her MFA. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Missouri Review, The Baffler, The Indiana Review and WSQ. She is currently at work on her first full-length poetry collection. She lives in Detroit with her husband and four children.