I was floating alone when they first tried to kill me.
Water lapping against reeds thick with river
mud and fish. I have so many feathers,
I thought, before the gun shot flew.
Then plucked like a daisy.
My white petals
loves me loves me not.
The quills from my body
full with ink that flowed
like water from home. There,
I wrote, I am.
When my ink dried they put me back
into water, closed the lid
and stopped the air.
What remained I counted
numbers that rose and swam together
so beautifully I thought
I might have become a swan.
The dinner party guests raised their knives
but my skin was too thick
Their sharpened steel couldn’t sink.
They brayed and dropped their weapons,
threw their nice chairs and stained everything with wine.
Rumbalide! So many beautiful things
in the garbage! I could have stayed
for centuries in layers of abandoned love.
I lined my splinters with blindfolds. I grew
more quills and ink. Daisies rooted
in water reeds and lids opened
to sunfish. Abandoned love kept whispering
hope so lovely I remembered. Through layers
I cut a tunnel out.
Back where I belong. Lapping
water against me. Who found another.
How I called to him through white water lilies
where the turtles waited to dry. Where layers
of lake grew tadpoles and filtered sun.
Here I am, Here I am! I called. Because
there is nothing like the shot
of a heart into a heart. Beating wings
against water. Head
going under. Feet sunk in mud.
We tried to stay there forever
where death was a strong song unable to die.
Then these, my children,
hatched to this water all fluffy and free.
Look at them learning to follow!
Julie Babcock’s poetry and fiction have recently appeared in PANK, No Tell Motel, Necessary Fiction, The Apple Valley Review, MiPOesias, and Fifth Wednesday Journal. Her poetry manuscript Character was a recent Gerald Cable Book Award finalist. She is a lecturer at University of Michigan.
Art Credit: John James Audubon, “Waterfowl: Canada Goose,” 1827