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White Grass

by the aviary his brother sat down and wept

Mariel Alonzo

loose nerves of a cage he once touched 

with hollow bones, where juvenile species

were incubated, shells unmapped. only 

a single knot of light to soft-boil, keep

themselves from scrambling. they called 

it sanctuary – a place where endangered

means fault-lined, folded into arks, entered 

by pairs of animals, wish bones sparked.

where just before dawn, his brother would 

count how many wingspans it would take

to reach the sun, praying his betrothed won’t 

come with the slat of lumber, reteaching him

flight. his fingers reaching deeper into light 

than ever when he was wild, when his mother

prophesied – son, you’re too much, why didn’t 

he stop? overflowed? why didn’t she clamp,

tore his beak, reclaimed each feather he owned? 

why didn’t anyone’s throat soar? now, he kneels

before the sunken bed of his husbandry, ache 

of ingrown claws heat-stroked from the last

snatched pocket, grafted marrow ready 

to erupt – fuse and fuchsias. this nest he built

above arrest – ash fall, where ghosts perch.




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