ISSUE 3 · FALL 2009




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Copyright © 2009

William Keener



Tale of the Avian Saint

WILLIAM KEENER

 

 

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.