She’s got a mango cleaved
to her chest cavity, juices drowning
the aorta, sweet acidic draining
from chamber to vein, and she thinks she’ll
yell, but quietly, into the pillow
of her sadness like the feathered ape
who lost a mate and blindly tools some ants
onto its tongue. This morning, songbirds
trill the air like a dentist’s drill
until a crow caws and caws, silencing
her self-pity. Hops toward her, absorbs
the architecture of her face. That crow tells the others
about a girl on a stoop, clasping a steaming cup,
who memorizes garbage routes.
She builds a nest of hangers and bullet trains.
A thirsty crow drops pebbles into a water glass.
Another drives out a hawk.
Go out and face the world,
a crow scolds. Migrating groups
spackle the sky with black stars.
Join local flocks to roost.
One crow demonstrates
a hook it made and a wand. Tool over tool, she scoops
insects from a tree hollow
while a young bird, blue-eyed, red-mouthed, watches.
The girl made a hook once, out of an unwheeled
carriage and a lost bit of cloud.
She sewed it into her sternum, tried to snag
a heartbeat or two. A broken wing.
May I find the strength—
The fat birds call to her, and she climbs a tree,
for hours and days she climbs,
for weeks, to the lip of a clutch
of sticks and gum wrappers, wire,
where two blue speckled eggs nest.
From that perch the whole world is prey.
Printed with permission from Linda Cooper, copyrighted by Linda Cooper @ 2015. This piece, winner of the Spring 2015 Orlando Prize for Poetry and selected by Finalist Judge Camille Dungy, originally appeared in Issue No. 18 of the Los Angeles Review.