Ruth Foley


means you are constrained. If black,
they sing of death—carrion birds
especially, but not exclusively. You

have business to attend to. You have
ghosts. It means you do not know

how to leave your hauntings. Dead,
birds mean the loss of dreams. If they
are trying to enter the house, you should

entrench yourself against what you know
is coming. Bring your flames and your

brooms. If once you held a bird—
in a cage or in your palm—it means
your heartbeat is untrustworthy.

See your doctor in the morning. Tell him
about the birdsong and the nest

you built from lint and tufts of fur,
from stray feathers and last year's leaves.

If you can fly with birds, you are ready
for your journey—pack your satchel,
strap it to your back like a parachute

in case your pilot has been dreaming
of holding birds. If there is singing,

it means hymns—of joy or mourning
is unclear. If baby birds are begging
for food, your hunger cannot be fed.

You're better off with the ghosts and
nests, with the falling and gliding.

Ruth Foley lives in Massachusetts, where she teaches English for Wheaton College. Her recent work is appearing or forthcoming in Adanna, The Bellingham Review, Yemassee, and Weave, among others, and her chapbook Dear Turquoise is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press. She serves as Managing Editor for Cider Press Review.

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