» Poetry

The Painted Skulls, Held by Wings, Glistened in Rain

 There is shadow
 of a sparrow
 left on the window ledge
 weeks after the poor bird
 had been removed.


The sun melted
 a permanent silhouette, tufts
 of feathers, and a faint point
 of beak still visible
 with three days of rain.


 Something is wrong.


 I had a dream
 where I said
 this is a dream.


 I’m certain
 no one noticed
 except my father
 who knew I’d try
 the salted rhubarb
 and pomegranate seeds
 that wept on my fingers.


 Beets turn
into sugar sweetly
 on the verge of burn and
 I am guilty with happiness
           of a kind,
 where I survive


 as a bird,

 an egret
 strange and white as my
 father’s mustache, a telltale
 for his murdered brother.


I don’t say
 I’m happy,
 a sort of guilty luck
 that I love because it fleets
 never follows, ripe to the point of rot.


 What if nothing moves
 still as sleep and my breath
 is not enough?


 I dream I am
 as steel as a swallow
 brazen head near bow and drink
 its forked tail a salute
 between death and habit.
The definition of egret
 is wrong,
 if I don’t hold
 the long legs in absolute stillness.


 Tonight, I find a cat
 near the shore. Let him eat,
 he will eat, he will return to
 animal, not pet. I say, here
            kitty, kitty. He reveals his belly
 to me and all who continue to pass.
 I have met people like this.


 Three egrets stretch
 above me in an arm full of rain
 I am older now than my Uncle
 dead at 36
all of history caught
 in those white wings.
 He too was killed for his
 feathers, a plume of decoration
       in a woman’s hat.


Monica Rico


Monica Rico is a second-generation Mexican-American who grew up in Saginaw, Michigan, alongside General Motors and the legend of Theodore Roethke. She is an MFA candidate at the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program and works for the Bear River Writers’ Conference. Her poems have appeared in Barrelhouse’s HEARD: A Tribute to Anthony Bourdain, Glass: A Journal of Poetry (Poets Resist), SiDEKiCK Lit, Split this Rock’s Poem of the Week, and Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse.

Photo credit: Nicole Rico.