Devolution — A Dream

Slowly back away, out of the darkened house. Step carefully, toe-to-heel, toe-to-heel. Watch them skulk forward from the shadows. They advance with bellies low. Don’t break eye contact. Don’t trip as you move, don’t fall. They’ll pounce. They’ll tear and rend. They’re too far gone now — no calm words, no soft vocalizations will bring them back. They have devolved. No longer the sleek-coated creatures that, just yesterday, you ran your hands over, that lifted to receive your touch. They bristle. They hiss. Their ears and teeth and claws have elongated and begun to curl. Their jaws shift forward. Don’t look so closely. Don’t think about it. Ignore the rapid beat of your heart, the shallowness of your breath and sweat at your hairline. Continue your uncertain exit. Find the door at your back. Press into it. Feel the bite of wood, the chill handle beneath your groping hand. Hear the click of metal tongue, the creak and gasp of hinges. Back out — slowly, slowly — into the cool, heavy night. Quickly now, pull the door shut as they hurl themselves upon it. Hear them yowl and scream. Hear their talons gouge wood. Pause a moment to catch your breath, to collect yourself. You have escaped. Now, run.

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“Devolution” — C.Birde, 6/16

 

Tree Door — An Image

I followed that winged and scintillating procession through the wood,

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“Tree Door” — C.Birde, 6/16,through the wood,

careful of my distance.

While I struggled

to keep my footsteps

to myself,

they seemed to

drift over the earth,

unfettered.

When I made my way

around that ancient

tree,

they had vanished

through a door

in its trunk.

Next Solstice, I will not lose them. I will follow to that other place.

 

— C.Birde, 6/16

 

 

 

The Lavender, Unadorned — A Poem

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“Lavender” — C.Birde, 6/16

Once,

not long ago,

the lavender hedge hummed

and trembled,

the foxgloves’ narrow,

yellow throats were lodged

with bees.

Silence, now.

Unadorned absence.

Where is the bee’s champion?

Their Rachel Carson?

When will we exchange

our short-sighted mantra

of “not-our-fault”

for “how-can-we-help”?

And,

in so doing —

in helping these small,

industrious creatures —

help

ourselves?

 

— C.Birde, 6/16

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“Lavender, Unadorned” — C.Birde, 6/16

 

 

Stolen — A Dream

Where can it be? It can’t simply have disappeared. I kneel on the linoleum floor, press knees to worn brown and ocher and ivory tiles. Bending, stretching, I reach under the couch to probe carefully, all the while wondering, who puts linoleum in a living room? And who lives in this mess? I pull wadded articles from beneath the couch — old ragged blankets, tattered pillows. All is covered in thick clots of dust.

I do not find my purse. Wallet, cash, photos, ID — gone.

This place has an air of abandonment — cluttered and aged, forgotten. The air smells stale and still. After searching the living room, behind and beneath furniture and boxes and bookshelves, I walk down a narrow, shadowed corridor, up a steep flight of equally narrow stairs. The hall stretches on through murky half-light. At its end, a rim of light edges a plain door. I press it open, find a young girl in a small, cramped bedroom. She has glossy brown hair and tanned skin and sits, her legs tucked beneath her, on a tall bed. Although she is a stranger to me, I know, looking at her, that she is the one — the thief. She has stolen my purse.

A wave of anger boils up, shivering through me till I tremble. Who does she think she is? To steal from me? Steal my identityYell at her. Threaten her. Pick up the phone there on the wall, pretend to dial the police, fingers barely touching the keypad. Speak to the crackling, open line, explain the crime. (Hang up quickly when a man’s voice answers!)

But my implied threat has reached herShe is truly distressed, has risen to her knees on the bed, with hands clasped at her chest and fingers threaded in a gesture of pleading.

I insist she return my purse; at the very least, she must help me look for it. She nods frantic agreement while I describe it — olive green canvas with a peace sign patch stitched to its front. As I provide more detail, I feel a weight upon my shoulder, a pressure against my hip. Glancing down, I see the purse, my purse, slung across my chest from right shoulder to left hip. Completely baffled, I cannot understand how it has come to rest there when I have spent so much time hunting for it. When I look up again — to apologize, to call off the search — the girl has scurried away.

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“Stolen” — C.Birde, 6/16

 

Light-Strewn Path — A Poem

Humble path,

strewn with disks of light

that shift illumination

underfoot,

while overhead

a wind tangles in

trees’ limbs outstretched

with leaves gilt-edged in sun.

No hearts of stone here.

No clenched fists.

Human constructs,

stripped away —

those cramped and

too-small boxes,

all those restrictive,

reductive

labels.

Here,

there is just

wind and song;

life,

and green-gold

light.

— C.Birde, 6/16

 

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“Light-strewn Path” — C.Birde, 6/16

 

Hello? — A Dream

Each step creaks in complaint as I climb the stairs. I have not been here in so long, I’ve forgotten how short the steps are, how narrow and restrictive the stairwell feels. Reaching the landing, I find a door that opens onto a small room, made all the smaller for the random items stuffed within it — half-open cardboard boxes stacked on floor and bed; a worn upholstered chair piled with an avalanche of rumpled laundry; scuffed books and used dishes strewn about.

Two young girls sit amidst this tumult — one kneels in an empty space she has excavated from the floor; the second sits cross-legged on the bed between boxes that shift and lean toward her.

A phone rings — a muffled trilling. Neither of the girls moves in response — not a twitch, nor a blink of eye. Although there is little room to hold me, I push myself into that cramped and crowded space, maneuver carefully toward the insistent ringing. To the left, a small, curtained window sheds dim light on two phones — one is sleek and modern, sitting upright in its charging station and blinking a single red cyclopian light; the other is old and heavy, with a tight-spiraled cord. A flat, circular disk sits on the antique phone’s face where a rotary dial should be. It is a faded, institutional blue.

The ringing persists. I lift the antique phone’s handle to answer; it’s heavy in my hand, cool and smooth against my skin. Pressing the receiver to my ear, I answer: “Hello?”

The line crackles, and I hear, as if across a great distance of time and space, my father’s voice. He tells me we must discover “the murderers”, and he next begins to dictate a series of complex math problems. In all this crowded mess, I can’t find a single piece of paper to write on, nor a pen to write with. This hardly matters, for the problems are far too complicated for me to retain, much less solve.

 

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“Hello?” — C.Birde, 6/16

Orphan — A Poem

The air vibrates,

crackles with alarm,

with a dozen voices lifted.

The sky churns,

a-roil with frantic motion,

with wings that beat —

blue, red, brown, gray —

and claws that flex;

with beaks

that jab and split and scream.

The storm

of this haphazard flock,

focused on a soot-winged marauder.

Adorned in ebony,

he cowers beneath their blows,

beneath the arc and unrelenting descent

of their contempt.

Then, with a sullen croak of “uncle”,

he lifts from the roof’s peak,

spreads shadow wings

and flees.

All is still.

Peace returns.

The makeshift flock disperses.

Later,

tucked within the hedge,

spot-breasted and unfledged,

plucked or dropped or wrested

from the nest,

we find young Robin —

unwitting participant,

and silent witness

to all.

— C.Birde, 6/16

 

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“Young Robin” — A.Schnitzler, 6/16