by Colette LaBouff Atkinson

I’m done with birds. Small romantic time-bombs I imagine I might hold and see up close. Nothing waits and everything disappears into a tree. Having flown off or into a window. All dressed up and smashed glass. Small Anna’s that charged the red sunset desert painting found itself stuck inside. The window, I pointed, thinking of having myself been shown the way. The bird wore herself out on the pane and spun down into the dog’s mouth. I yelled until the dog loosened his jaws so that the bird, a pinwheel, flew out again. In the sill, inside, one brilliant rose feather.

Wear my shirt. Take my keys in case you get home early. Leave the dishes in the sink for two days. Drive my car; there’s already gas in it. Piss on my floor, by accident of course. Let the dog sleep on the bed all he wants. But I’m done with birds.

The morning mourning dove, headless, still breathing, and being eaten by two crows. I passed the mess, and dirty feathers followed. I’m done looking down. I’m done looking up for where the woodpecker hangs and taps. Or backward, on the boardwalk, for swallows in my wake. Through trying to get their attention.  Worrying over how minor they are compared to the sky. Mallard in the parking lot stepping over trash. Heron in the pond watching one duckling swim to find the others. Harris hawk shadow on the crown of my head.

I’m finished with the beautiful things that, out of my sight, become what I thought they would.

This poem, by Zócalo’s Poetry Editor Colette LaBouff Atkinson, first appeared in MiPOesias, September 2010. She is on vacation.

*Photo by Colette LaBouff Atkinson.