(You can view Sage’s painting A Bird in the Room here)
On “A Bird in the Room” by Kay Sage
The year after you died, I refused all fruit.
I could not bear that hybrid of plant and ghost.
By the time a lemon reaches the east coast,
its tree could be in flames.
All that’s left a sour ball,
a seed unwelcome on chicken.
The month you died, I kept the fruit
I found on walks in shadows.
If I can’t have it, no one will.
I stuck them in my rafters,
where darkness transformed them.
Not castration but refuse.
The week you died, I examined pits.
Nectarines, apricots, peaches,
all malformed brains. I had wondered
about mangoes. Under sunset skin,
thick, orange slime. What keeps
their roundness? Can you read braille?
The day you died, there was a bird
in the room. Round and pulsing,
a bird is a kind of fruit. You
can take it apart with your hands.
I think it was looking for a tree
filled with pomegranates or twigs.
I know what the old women say:
If a bird enters your home, a member
of your household will die. I did not know
they meant the spot where all gentleness gathers,
the pit. You have to wonder the causality
and how far back it will go.
The year I refused fruit made me still
inside, the stillness filled our house
with grey. The pits fell out of rotting
bodies. The bird got lost somehow
and invited itself in. I think it killed you,
love, killed you with feathers and legs.
How perverse that you will never go
into the ground, never go to tree.
You’ll fly, little bird, out over the coast.
But I will leave my door open for you
in case you get lost. For you, love,
I’ll fill my home with ash.
About the Author: Nadia Arioli (nee Wolnisty) is the founder and editor in chief of Thimble Literary Magazine. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Spry, SWWIM, Apogee, Penn Review, McNeese Review, Kissing Dynamite, Bateau, Heavy Feather Review, Whale Road Review, SOFTBLOW, and others. They have chapbooks from Cringe-Worthy Poetry Collective, Dancing Girl Press, and a full-length from Spartan.
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