“The New Morrigan,” by Linda Cooper


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.

Author: A Room of Her Own

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