I began writing this poem soon after my son’s accident, which happened about a decade ago. In many ways, my lengthy revision process mimicked my need to return to the traumatic incident again and again. Over time, I discovered that my son’s survival had moved me to reconsider the natural world and all its random threats and hidden mysteries; do birds have powers that we fail to see? And if so, what other unseen forces might influence our existence?
Do concerned birds see everything
we can’t? Like a low-flying starling
starved in winter, I peck holes of daylight
into night’s half-frozen dirt, refusing
to excuse that I failed to punch through
clouds, pluck my son before his feet flew
off the skateboard—back arched in the air.
And what of the tree-tops: did they cavern
his screams into the wind’s sail, or catch
his face—the shock, plummeting
out of boyhood—mouth half-open
to the sun? If I tell you what I saw hours
later in his eyes, when he whispered,
“I don’t want to die,” if I tell you how close
the sky came to settling beneath him
would you believe in trumpets, tired angels,
sword-snapping dragons crowding the moon?
When the surgeon told my son he’d lost
a patient weeks earlier—same accident
same age—I watched their mirrored faces,
drops of clear shrapnel singing their cheek-skin.
I saw streaming and surrender, too, like the flock
of swans outside the hospital window—necks
bent from battle—frayed feathers cushioning
gravel-snow below. I saw what the birds saw
weeks earlier—same accident, same age, no angel.
Sasha Wade is a recent graduate of Bennington College MFA Writing Seminars and an attendee of The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She is currently working on her first book of poems, a portion of which will include several experimental translations of her great-grandfather, Alirio Diaz Guerra, poetry. Diaz Guerra was a prolific poet who was born in Colombia and later exiled to Brooklyn in 1895. Sasha’s poetry has appeared in Rust + Moth, The James Dickey Review, Third Wednesday, Front Porch Review, and The American Journal of Poetry.
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When it happens, you let it happen, Lynne Schmidt
Holiday Party 2017, Kim Ellingson
Ninety Days, Remi Recchia
The Universe, as in One Last Song for the Lonely Hearts, Michelle Hulan
Saudade Accuses Brown Girl, Yvanna Vien Tica
windmills over Zaandam, Gabriela Gonzales
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Intercession, Sasha Wade