ISSUE 3 · FALL 2009
Tale of the Avian Saint
When she spoke up, the birds would fly
wing after wing from out of her mouth,
harriers, hawks, and loggerhead shrikes
all in defiance of government rules—
words are for plumage, not to be used
for talons or song, forbidden to ruffle
their doves begging crumbs in the park.
But her owls broke the curfew, her larks
woke the neighbors, her crows cracked
the windows of the church and town hall.
We flocked to the streets, where they
night-sticked and cuffed her, but her wrists
disappeared in a puff of down-powder.
Facing the crowd, she said, Don’t resist,
and gave up the rest. All that was left
was her dress, a few feathers they locked
in a squad car. We stayed to light candles,
debating her wisdom, what it meant,
that flight of her last falconet, our words
in the air, birds soaring, birds singing.
William Keener is an environmental lawyer in the San Francisco Bay Area. His poems appear in a variety of literary journals, most recently Margie, Isotope, Caesura, Alehouse, Iron Horse Literary Review, The Main Street Rag and Slice Magazine. His first solo collection, Gold Leaf on Granite, will soon be published by Anabiosis Press.