Birdcage by Katherine Neale

As witnesses of grief
we become dark of tongue
dark of heart.
Grey birds inhabit our bodies
settling in the most intimate places.

The birds squat in our ankles. They flutter in our
knees. They peck at our fingers.

They fold themselves in the inner ear
tucked away from the lighting
that strikes the skull like a chisel.
The pieces fall
from the crowns of our heads.

We could not be more mortal.

So we house the birds
in the sap of our navels
in the stems of our throats.
And we sing.
The earth lifts our skulls—
a storm of cirrus and curl. The mountains
so stoic so still so quiet
are fretting and thrashing within us.

This is the witching hour we have been waiting for
the witching hour we have been dreading.
Arms spread not like wings
but daggers.

There is fire to be eaten
flame by flame.

We rise from the bowels of the soil.
We are clean.

Katherine Neale
, a native Memphian consumed with wanderlust who plans traipsing across Europe for a bit after she earns her Master’s in Education. She then plans on hunkering down to teach. She tends to write about the process of writing itself and the recycling of language

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