Bird Shadow Puppet
by Robin Gow
We were tied back to back and I wanted to walk across the ocean and you wanted to take me into
the molten core. So, I drug you like a stone and we both plummeted in blue. Together, watching
as the worms passed us by several times. Collision. A bird is an animal constructed with this
urge—to take both directions at once. I might be a girl then a boy then a girl but at least always a
bird. Shadows tear apart under this kind of pressure but not the bird. You didn’t know what you
wanted, or, so I tell myself. Kissing your forehead with a blade. Is a wound to the shadow a
wound to the skin or the underneath? I’m most terrified when I consider I am nothing
underneath. The table-cloth trick. Grabbing the edge and yanking and there is no table at all.
The plates and glasses and utensils hover before deciding to crash. I am one-handed in the sense
that it only takes one hand to be half the bird. Is half enough? Sometimes. There are days when
the journey to the ocean happens as easy as breathing. The shadow of a bird lands on the tree
outside my bedroom window. There is no bird along with it. There is also, maybe, no tree
Robin Gow is a trans poet and young adult author from rural Pennsylvania. They are the author of several poetry books, an essay collection, and YA/MG novels in verse, A Million Quiet Revolutions (FSG Books for Young Readers, 2022), Ode to My First Car and Dear Mothman (Forthcoming 2023). Gow's poetry has recently been published in POETRY, Southampton Review, and Poetry Online.