“I hid from it. I mean, I ran to the garage.”
Her beef stroganoff had paled, cooled
As she spoke, stilted-steady, knowing the words
Could exit and be their own creatures, not in cages
But not free-range, either; in houses, properly locked.
I remembered when, before, we’d seen a dead bird
In this same place, speaking of other treacheries, the bird
Carcass, when noticed, halting her sentence like a frightened garage
Door about to hit some invisible limb. We couldn’t go back, locked
Into this deeper thing of death: a body cooled
Splayed, feet up, on concrete. I wondered aloud if cages
Could have saved it, but those were just words
To say. I ate my own stroganoff, wondering what fervid words
Could be offered for this destruction. If a bird
Demanded our sympathy, what of us in eight-story cages,
Holding a jagged memory of a garage
Escape? What had she wondered? ‘Had he cooled
Off? Would it happen again? What was it in me that wasn’t locked
Tightly enough? Or was I locked
At all?’ And when she spoke it, in brave precocity, the words
Offered back were a warning, a critique, a shame: no cooled
vengeance like an osprey’s sacrifice for her baby bird.
Her presence wasn’t fit for the family home; only the garage.
Somehow, the song of her nest was not “Men like that deserve to be in cages,”
But they were extended to her. Steel-quiet cages
Draped in the dark, evil velvet of honor, locked
From the outside while she found safety in a garage.
“I was weak,” she said. “That’s not how I see it,” I started, words
Clotting in my mouth. We couldn’t go back, not from the bird,
Not from this, but I let my lips part; my teeth cooled
By oxygen inhaled at a new angle. It had to be cooled,
All this breath enclosed and set free from rib cages,
Faint and fragile as the hollow bones of a bird,
Not simply a bone-pile, but formed, locked
Into the skeleton of her history, a truly-emerging anatomy of words
Guiding her here from a cramped, macabre garage
She looked backward and forward at the cages, understanding they must be cooled
To be seen; the garage slowly, laboriously pushed open to allow the bird
A new flight. She locked the styrofoam holding her lunch and graced me with more words.
Christy Jones is a Minnesotan poet, singer, actress, and playwright. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Lindenwood University, and has works published or forthcoming in The Collidescope, Reckoning Press, Eunoia Review, and Crêpe & Penn, among others. She has an unabashed love for musical theater, linguistics, Columbo, and the superiority of Duck, Duck, Gray Duck to Duck, Duck, Goose.