Three Poems

POETRY by Shaindel Beers

 

The Bird Wife

Sky thistle, then sapphire, then eggplant—
she watches the waves for driftwood at first light,
fever-dreams of a piece shaped like a sculpture
of the man she lost to the sea years ago.
Fishing for salmon off the Kenai and then
never heard from again. Just a boat
knocking against the wharf. A black dog
howling on shore. She wonders if someday
she will become a seagull crying her losses.
As a girl when the only ocean she had seen
was the endless wheat, she read that albatrosses
were lost sailors’ wives following ships
telling the men, Be safe—Be safe—Be safe!
There is someone waiting for you at home.   

 

Inheritance

Liam pounds the acetate horse on the table
squealing, “Whee…” and when the plastic leg snaps
I picture Eight Belles in a heap on the racetrack
all heaving and knowing the end that would come
after her pasterns had shot through the velvety
softness of skin. The way she ran so hard even
her bones couldn’t be contained by her body.
And I think how I can hate
so hotly that nothing can stop it. How
when I punched the shower wall, I thought
my wrist had exploded through my hand,
I expected to look down and see blood
and bone, not just the yellowing flesh,
a boxer’s fracture,
the way my rage will fly out of my body
in an instant. How easily “I could fucking kill
you right now” will slip off the tongue,
and it scares me, this person I never was before,
this mother my son gave birth to.

 

Philomela as Farm Wife

Steam rises from the cup of coffee on the kitchen island,
a pink bra swings from the white-painted corner of cabinet door,
jeans pool on the broad walnut boards of the floor.

When did this transformation begin?
Beginnings are all transformations.

Always at the sink doing dishes, always in the kitchen cooking
or cleaning up after cooking, she imagined herself one of the sparrows
stuck in birdlime that she would beg her father to free
when she was a child.

Before she found the pile, their bodies packed
tight like cotton balls, she’d believed him when he said he let them go;
she’d never imagined him capable of cruelty; she’d never imagined
most of the truths of the farm.

When did this transformation begin?
Beginnings are all transformations.

Now, as a bird, she looks in the same window she’s spent years
dreaming out of, wonders what rumors will spread to explain her disappearance.