A squawking from my upstairs room

so loud I imagine a large crow
shredding papers, shitting on books,
but the young starling I find sits cornered,
its whole body pulsing, a small grey heart.

I remember how my son used to howl,
those airless nights that kept deepening,
lengthening like dark corridors repeating themselves
when nothing I could do would keep him
from the rage. Sometimes a voice outgrows the throat.

Now eyeing me, the bird grows
oddly silent as if suddenly I’ve become
something to be afraid of. Each move I make
sends it half-flying across the room, feathers
wispy like uncombed hair of a child. It dives
under the baseboard heater. Inside the metal teeth
the terrible percussion of wings.

And didn’t I sometimes wish for a sudden vanishing
of sound, an unexplained absence from the crib.

This time I am as helpless
as what I’ve come to rescue;
all I can offer is my own fear
like dried up bits of bread. It’s Wednesday.
The wind blows cold through the open window.

Babo Kamel’s poems have appeared in The Greensboro Review, Alligator Juniper, the Grolier Poetry Prize, Contemporary Verse 2, among others. She was a winner of the Charlotte A. Newberger Poetry Prize, for which her poem was published in Lilith. Originally from Montreal, she now resides in Venice, Florida.

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