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  • Starlings, and: Grackle, and: Madonna Del Passero
  • Karen Leona Anderson (bio)


The most beautiful clothes: iridescent blackover Snarl Call. I wore the soft Sparrow

to the store, I borrowed the Crow to bag food;the Chickadee to the masquerade; the Vulture to the show,

where my silhouette had to be more raw-neckedand veined. Stare: it’s hard

to think of me as the citizen of a star;I’m no jet-sharp Swallow, no Bluebird’s rare

rosy décolletage, no white breastssterling the light, no Swan. I wear the soft gray hat

of the Junco pulled down. But I can,

in Starling, gloss more than one thing:employee of my own oiled silk finish,

and purple-green trasher of your silence,reflector and sharp-beaked shredder of

your most gorgeous and boring murmuracion:mine mine mine mine. [End Page 104]


Of Least Concern. The Corn(relax, Ma) is not under Threat.Bronze-Bodied and Bald, though,means I am; I do; succumb to hisCommon Name and Yellow Eye and Thumb.Great Boat, Jack; the Others Yellto Him. (I’m not kiddingabout the Thumb). Great TailYou Seem to Have Caughtwith all your Purple. (I’m the Tail.)I forgot that Jack means Small;I forgot that Daw is a Corvid;Meaning that Man is a Calland not a Promise; Meaning thatDespite His Great Numbersand Noisy Selves, He may Not Call.(I know you said He would Not Call.)He is More Intimate with Antsas they Help Repel his Mites. He ishis own Corvette. But afterthe First Date, He May Call. Ma,I’m warning you: I MayBecause of his Great NumbersIgnore His Calls. [End Page 105]

Madonna Del Passero

I demonstrate the sparrow:icon of us, mirrored, fallow,a sea of dull brown and female,with the thin leash around our necksheld by a fat baby:                      your fate, if you,like the rest of us, remain dependent;pregnant with it; the evidence that godwill kill even the worthless, the unformed.

                      But, look, we could be more,say, could alight in our own places, set fireto our own houses with a stolen cigarettewinged glowing through the rafters; could matefor life but get, you know, around.Could flood the City, and then, just as suddenleave it bereft, its barns and malls all skeletal—

              Could be not spar or spare, but spore,us, small and alone on the roof. Not just singin the broken chorus but toeach other, chirrup, a necklace of ourselves,everywhere, each strung, yes, but each body, skiff,each wing, oar. [End Page 106]

Karen Leona Anderson

Karen Leona Anderson is the author of Punish Honey. Her work has most recently appeared in The Best American Poetry 2012. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and Cornell University, she is currently an assistant professor at St. Mary's College of Maryland.



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