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Starlings

Michael Burns

I won't say that I didn't hear peeping
when I started up the ladder to take a look.
I could just reach far enough to hook
a swatch of straw as big as a pillow
and pull it loose, and down came

three half-grown baby birds
with eyes wide open, and heads too big
for their necks. I stared at their ancient,
blameless stupidity, and then I whacked
them over and over with the edge of the rake.

I had a pile of limbs that needed burning,
and with the straw I made a funeral fire.
My guess is you think you can see me there
watching them burn, a sad but satisfied
look on my face. Coldness. Maybe you can.

What if I told you now that none of this
was true, and that what I really did
was put them back, like a movie rewound?
My guess is already I've gone too far.
You smell the singe of feathers in the air.
		
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