5,227 Readings

A Family of Birds

“The creative adult is the child who survived.”  Ursula LeGuin


Heaven isn’t lighter fluid or an antique cup overflowing /

full of sulpher


When I light myself on fire, it’s just a metaphor for trying.

Reaching you is / practical / requires a practicum.

My father is an owl / hoots to the evening stars.

Well, that long-ago light is already dead.

When you reach back, I / I try to sink into the crevice of your


Everyone wears masks, including my father.

Dear You, I am bizarre.

Childhood was a shelf of china cups arranged / the arraignment

            of china on a sideboard.

Ha ha ha don’t say bull in a china shop.

Also, somedays, we ate off Melmac.

Then I sailed away from the table to burn alone in my room /

            a solo exemplar of flame.

Please don’t blame me for the messes / plunder

            my senses—I watch my

father soar headlong into a window.

Mother cared for him until all his demons once again resembled

            feathered wings / mites on the wings.

He pondered his feelings in silence / which were skies /

            silences / our mouths gummed

together / strawberry jam.

Dear You, I have inherited

            the Bizarre Owl of Bizarreness.

As for my mother?

My mother was a raven / ravenous.

Her screech threw stones in every general direction.

One night, while the owl gazed at the stars, the raven ate a black


Did you know that when you talk about your mother you speak of her

            in the past tense / he asked.

Now she lives in a turret on a cliff / swallows

            her own tail feathers.

My telephone, though ignored, is her instrumental

            method of arrival.

Meanwhile, everyone I meet lives in a spaceship of self-imposed

            barriers.  I take place in a submarine.

The water is cool and bright / full of ghosts.

Many of us are thus impinged—we sew random pockets /

            watery resistance.

My brother thinks I am supposed to learn how to forgive.

Which may lead you to believe that my only sibling is a dove.

But all those years he bit me / hawk-like.

He was the hallowed birdman of our family.

Dear You.   I am this distance / earth to ground.

Learned early to float away.  Plus, the difficulty of the return


When you find me in my wattle nest hiding behind shutters.

When our articles of faith are tested.

Dear Owl / Dear Raven / Dear Hawk—

I owe you and hate you / struggle mightily.

Hatred turns the heart to a handful of hard, sharp stones.

Stones screechy as a raven / biting as a hawk /

            bizarre as an owl.

Owing is different / constructs shelves / layers of self.

The first time I dismantled their world in my head was also the

            original impulse to create.

Posted 06/14/14
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