Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2017  Vol. 16 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Icarus in the House of Spirits

In the Great Swamp, he described the most common owls—
screech, great horned, barred—their different habitats,
but it all just looked like woods to me. He pointed to the sky
where a tangle of black birds swooped and called. Even I
could see how angry they were. That’s “mobbing,
he said. They’re trying to scare a great horned out.
He swore the owl was above, but I couldn’t look up
without getting dizzy. Looking now in the bathroom mirror
in Johnny Mac House of Spirits, I remember holding his hand,
the sound of the screaming birds drilling inside my skull.
The faces surrounding my reflection are all women’s—
brown, pale, nutty, speckled—all primping and preening,
peacocked and prettified, a lovely and terrifying flock
of which I am part. I can’t recall his face, but his hands
I can in detail—shape of palm, meat of thumb, bend of fingers—
as if they were wing shoots holding him above the sorrows
of his life, out of reach of what chased him, and I can feel the bird-
heart in my chest fluttering while my face seems hollowed,
owlish in this dim light in which we hope to confirm our beauty.  

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