by Stella Reed
Stasha, our little fox tails twitched beneath blankets. Mine was auburn ringed in black. Yours red, with a tip of white. We were born for these things: yellow cherries, a melon-backed mandolin, eggs of the Clarión wren. We touched tongues and laughed hysterically. In winter our scissors whispered through paper snowflakes. In summer we dug a grave for the blind pelican, littered the sand covering its body with tiny white flowers, confused a funeral for a wedding, flower girls to the bride of death.
The beak of our mother’s nose poked through the keyhole of her round glasses. She taught us skylarks sing only while in flight. When they rest they are quiet. An angel with cigarette in hand, she traced patterns of light from the dark doorway of our bedroom. Through the thin wall we heard her count our father’s scars, the bumps on his body where shrapnel entered. Like a fish, he slept with eyes open, dreamt of things on fire, babies, bunkers, sand. The whole world exploding into blood and coins, heart tattooing his chest black and blue. He was a trip wire, a live wire, a leaky valve, skip in the record, piston, crank. Toadstool with gunpowder spores.
Before we migrated, our feathers dropped, lessening the burden of flight. Mother pocketed them in her apron, sewed them shut with the strings of her violin. Father. Feather. So much weight in one vowel. We wrapped our fox tails in blouses stained with summer salt. We were born for goodbyes.
Stella Reed (she/her) is the co-author of the NM-AZ Book Award-winning We Are Meant to Carry Water (2019) from 3: A Taos Press. She is the 2018 winner of the Tusculum Review chapbook contest for Origami. In pre-pandemic times, she taught poetry to women in domestic violence and homeless shelters through WingSpan Poetry Project in Santa Fe, New Mexico. You can find her work in various journals and anthologies, including most recently The American Journal of Poetry, The Baltimore Review, About Place Journal, The Fourth River, and Terrain. She is a Best of the Net nominee for 2020 and holds an MFA from New England College. Stella works for Audubon Southwest where she is a proud member of the Queer Affinity Group.