There are too many poems about birds,
a poetry article advised. Write about something
fresh. Fair enough. Poetry that doesn’t use birds
as a metaphor for escape or freedom is scarce
as hen’s teeth. The thing about birds is
they used to be dinosaurs. We make such a clamor
over our history, a pack of cackling grackles over
genetics and heritage. Do birds, somewhere deep
in the strands of their phalanges, remember their glory days?
Not only the scope of their spread, their dominion
over a vastly different globe, but of their bodies: pulsing
with blood, fast, agile, feathered, the flight of their prey
before them? Sometimes the gleam of malevolence
in goose eyes makes me wonder. But if they do,
what then? The world only moves forward, and their mastery
has shrunk till it rests in their hollow bones only, in the gaps
where beaks replace teeth in most birds. They are diminished—
or diminutive, though in the hulk of vultures or the fury
of cassowaries a shadow of their former selves still lurks.
Birds now, though, do more than their ancestors
in one aspect. They are no longer bound to brief glides:
they soar and swoop and sustain flight for miles
upon ceaseless miles. The thing about poetry is
it’s always trying to remind the birds of this.
Gretchen Rockwell is a queer poet currently living in Scotland. Xe is the author of two micro chapbooks and a forthcoming chapbook from Vegetarian Alcoholic Press; xer work has most recently appeared in perhappened mag, Whale Road Review, Poet Lore, FreezeRay Poetry, and elsewhere. Gretchen enjoys writing poetry about gender, history, myth, science, space, and unusual connections – find xer at https://www.gretchenrockwell.com or on Twitter at @daft_rockwell.