“bird bodies” by Alicia Bessette

so frail when they faded down that corridor.
no use crying out—the mask
swallowed my mouth. besides,
only the metal bed had ears.

dreamed of brother guzzling air from buckets.
sister swinging high, shoes flying.

woke with wormy scars, pecked, not knowing
forge or forget


they watched me binge
and didn’t say stop

or okay or someday
you’ll miss blood

because it’s bright and
if nothing else, yours.

after, i lay on mealy
ground, one eye closed

making my fingers feathers
that floated over chimney

beyond sky. how else to
escape a belly so like

mouth, emptiest when full?
choice and demon both,

the eating. maybe. but my own
fingers blamed me. still do


wings trace loops;
sculpture shows me.
its streamers, frozen
above grass, tip and
slide me through.

if only arms spiraled into wings.
how i flapped at pretend edge
aching to belong.

now at real edge
i cup my hands
and whisper mending



Alicia Bessette’s poems have appeared in Anima, Atlanta Review and The Main Street Rag. Her debut novel Simply From Scratch (Dutton/Plume) was an international bestseller. Visit her website at www.aliciabessette.com


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