by Sheree La Puma
Wings. Crowns. Throats. Bills, plunged deep into black
oil sunflower/seeds. There are a few peanut halves
thrown in for bulk but the songbirds don’t like them.
I watch them bite & flick. A mourning warbler twists
his nape, calls to me in a dream/frozen like the remains
of a child found buried in a shallow grave. The flame-
drenched star she prayed upon whispers my name.
Where is my daughter?
I forget the room I’m sitting in, but not her dimpled
cheeks pressed soft into skin as she nursed. They say
a body is a marker of what needs to be erased. Next
door, a woman with cancer is learning to live without
her left breast, a vet, without his legs, & me? I have
lost the morning sun, dawn fizzing orange into prayer.
I am an identity, torched.
One evening someone will dream of seagulls, see me
walking along the beach in California. Shell littered,
beside the roar of waves. In that foggy realm where
matter & spirit meet, I will find you, loyal & unsung.
Until then, a body stitches itself together. Grief, is a
balm/a holy river/blue transplanted & worn like skin.
Sheree La Puma is an award-winning writer whose personal essays, fiction, and poetry have appeared in or are forthcoming in The American Journal of Poetry, WSQ, Chiron Review, SRPR, The Rumpus, Plainsongs, Into the Void, and I-70 Review, among others. Her poetry was recently nominated for Best of the Net and her micro-chapbook, The Politics of Love, was published in August by Ghost City Press. She has a new chapbook, Broken: Do Not Use, due out in 2021 from Main Street Rag Publishing. She received an MFA in writing from the California Institute of the Arts and taught poetry to former gang members.