The thing about being a bird now,
not touching the ground for days,
is it becomes hard to uncrook your fingers.
People are always looking
at your underside, no matter
how you pull down your skirts.
Someone is always saying
you sing too early, and someone else
that they never hear you anymore,
where have you gone?
But it is not a real question,
they are not looking for you.
If you are feathering the inside
of your thigh for protection,
I must remind you nightingales
are a delicacy and even blackbirds
can be baked.
If you think God will help you
with this, talk to Leda.
If you are shredding the skin on your fingers
next to your red painted nails
to get your song back,
to be the miniskirted mourning
dove, the girl in the band,
let the Sirens tell you
how the bass player really tastes.
If you dream yourself quick hearted,
cherished in your lover’s hand,
the Harpies would like a word.
But if you are knitting your shoulder
blades to fly to Olympus
and make your case direct,
Icarus is your man.
Though where he has gone
no bird or girl can find him.
Jody Burke-Kaiser was born barefoot in the Appalachian foothills to a family long steeped in storytelling and sarcasm. She has an MA in literature from Boston College, and an MSN in midwifery from Marquette University. Her work has appeared in The Louisville Review, After Hours, Rhino, BrainChild, Pirene’s Fountain, and was an Editor’s Choice in the Winter 2016/17 issue of Panoply.
Artwork: Caryn Drexl