to The Ornothologist
By Jamie O'Hara Laurens
Was it an accident of summer?
A bird slipped into the old house brazen,
through the front door. A bird the color of courage,
not silver, not stony— ashen, dashed yellow.
It sought escape high in the rafters, in loops and lunges that caught our breath.
It stirred us from our sleep, frightening with its warm predicament of bones.
Our skulls reverberated wing-brush in rafters.
Through the night I abacused parables: a bird in the hand is….
a bird in the hand, but— a bird in the house is
a bird over our heads—
is a bird in our nest and not its own—
What is a bird in the hand worth again?
A bird in the hand
was the flutter when once you pressed a thumb against my lowest rib.
How I pulled that rib from my skin, and held it to you.
More insect, distorted, bent and spindled, all awry angles,
I wanted you to be the collector, collecting, to account for underwings—
Friend, it’s to you I turn when the omens come.
The night was the night. Solitary, and spoken for.
A bird in the house, over our heads is an omen,
an omen. How to accept
the annunciation in a letter you cannot open? Or is it just
an accident of summer? A bird in the hand, no—a bird
in the house, yes— in the rafters: staying,
There is a bird in the house. It troubles our heads.
It ruffles the air above our beds.
It will not rest. It will not let us rest.
Jamie O'Hara Laurens lives in Brooklyn, NY, where she teaches, translates, writes, and forages for tiny miracles of nature with her five year-old marvel.
Matt Adrian (aka the Mincing Mockingbird) is an artist based in Los Angeles. Find his work here.