Dear Carole, Today I learned
that like humans, birds have
Can you imagine? In those tiny,
frail-boned bodies with feathers that float
right off in a healthy breeze.
That’s me as a bird, you’d said
one day driving home
from Food Maxx when I almost hit
a fat, slow, low-flying pigeon that ignored
the two thousand pounds of sun-hot, black metal
careening across the parking lot
as it focused in on a shiny
bag of Ruffles.
Stupid bird, I’d said. Get the fuck
outta the way before I hit you.
You’d hit me if I was a bird, you said.
You’re not a bird, I said, adjusting
the rearview mirror, checking
the groceries in the back hadn’t tipped.
But if I was? you pushed. I’m fat and slow
and you’d just hit the fucking gas
and my fat bird body would splat
across your windshield. Dead.
Your fat bird body would probably
crack the windshield, I said, looking
right and left to merge
into Shaw Ave.’s midday traffic.
At least your bird death
cost me two hundred dollars.
You didn’t laugh.
Look it’s just Darwinism.
The slow get hit. But the smart?
They don’t. So what,
if you’re a fat, slow bird? You are
also a smart bird
who’d reason out waiting
till the death machine passed.
That’s when—when the only thing moving
across the parking lot is a dry wind
meandering through the Valley—
you’d tottle that round bird body
on its toothpick pegs
over to that shiny chip bag.
I suppose I would, you said, smiling
a little, craning your neck to watch
the fat pigeon happily tearing
at the seam on its prized chip bag.
As a bird, you would have had it all.
Sarah A. Chavez, a mestiza born and raised in the California Central Valley, is the author of the poetry collections, Hands That Break & Scar (Sundress Publications) and All Day, Talking (dancing girl press). Her new project, Halfbreed Helene Navigates the Whole received a 2019-2020 Tacoma Artists Initiative Award. Chavez teaches creative writing and Latinx/Chicanx-focused courses at the University of Washington Tacoma, serves as the poetry coordinator for Best of the Net Anthology, and is a proud member of the Macondo Writers Workshop. Recent work can be found or is forthcoming in Xicanx: Mexican American Writers of the 21st Century, Diode, & Hotel Amerika. Her micro chap, like everything else we loved, is forthcoming from Porkbelly Press in 2021.