On Meeting a Shrike

It stopped me dead at first.
A pupil pushing back green irises

flush at its sides—an opening in the woods
you curated. Hawthorns with white blooms,

honey locust limbs locking barbs above the path
that splintered the hill

in mulch—a softer name for shards,
trees needling themselves back into the earth.

I picked raspberries in long sleeves,
skirted the brambles growing along the sunny edge

and then took the trail upslope, into deep shade.
My collar snagged as I ducked

under the osage orange,
with thorns like spires on its drooping boughs.

I pushed further beneath the canopy, found a place
where things were still

as a bowl of unpunctured water.
Where the only movement was the butcher bird

feeding from the dead lizard it impaled on the briers—
its stiff tail, a harpoon piercing the air.

Lorrie Ness is a poet writing in a rural corner of Virginia. When she’s not writing, she can be found stomping through the woods, watching birds and playing in the dirt. Her work can be found in numerous journals, including Palette Poetry and Sky Island Journal. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2021 and her chapbook Anatomy of a Wound was published by Flowstone Press in July of 2021.

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