Bird in a Brick House
by Judith Roney
Ravens. If one is killed in a farmer’s field, it’s not uncommon
for them to alter migratory patterns so that none fly over that field
In a suburban brick house Mother taped my wings against my spine
to keep the secret Father was all avian and dark.
My grandmother crushed her parakeet, Petie, when clipping
his claws. In his panic he sang into her palm, his pain
like a red gift.
It’s known ravens can recognize human faces. They can pick
someone out of a crowd they remember. I looked
for my father’s face in every man I passed
for decades. For a feather at the back of a collar.
Once, when still a child, two neighbor kids cornered
me asking where is your father?
Black feathers fell
from the back of my shirt to the grass
as they asked and they asked and I wanted to fly away.
An unkindess of ravens occurred: I wasn’t ready.
In my spring of teal I left everything.
Truck routes were memorized and Ilived off scraps, learned
to drop nuts in the road for a car’s crushing.
My nest I’ve built out of what others throw away: Coat hangers,
shoelaces and tinsel.
My son lives in that same brick house, alone.
I’ve been telling him to look in the bathroom mirror; check
his back for a sign of black feathers
About Judith Roney
Judith Roney is the author of According to the Gospel of Haunted Women, which won the 2015 Pioneer Prize for a poetry collection. A dystopian novel, Alone, is forthcoming in 2019. She teaches English and creative writing at the University of Central Florida, is a staff reader for The Florida Review, and acts as mentor and managing editor for two students who founded Longleaf Review.