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Birdsong

Jacob Pritchett

Every morning, I wake up to a dove’s coo.

 

Her home nestles

in a young maple tree

near my window where

she feeds

her three hatchlings.

 

Every morning, the youngest doesn’t eat.

 

He did last week,

but when his mother left,

a mockingbird swooped down

into the nest

and pressed its spindly black

foot on his stomach

until he regurgitated

what he had been fed.

 

Every morning, the mockingbird doesn’t eat the hatchling’s meal.

 

It just leaves.

It just wants

to make the hatchling starve.

 

Every morning, the dove wonders why her hatchling isn’t eating.

 

And I can’t sing her birdsong

to warn her that her child

is dying

and he doesn’t have to be.

 

Every morning, the hatchling inches closer to the edge of the nest.

 

And I want to catch him before

he falls,

remind him what he is about to do

to his mother,

help him understand how much

she loves him.

I want to see him live to fly.

 

But there is nothing I can do.

 

I can’t sing their birdsong.

I can’t reach the maple tree.

I can’t stop what’s already happened.

 

It will never be enough.

 

I can’t stop the hatchling’s

plummet,

I can’t stop the

granite blow,

I can’t stop his

glass bones shattering,

I can’t stop his

mother knowing,

I can’t stop her

starving herself,

I can’t stop knowing

 

I’ve seen this before.

 

Every morning, I make breakfast, though I can’t bring myself to eat.

 

I set the table for two.

Fall, 2019 Issue