* * *
I Do Not Have Wings
I am deciding, today, how it will feel to be disowned.
A black and blue butterfly has just landed in paint run-off
from the small house. The house and the grass are all the color
of a robin’s egg,
ppppppppppppppor maybe a chicken’s.
pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppOur chickens lay
that shade of blue and brown. Houseflies shine blue-green
in the sun and
pppppppppppppvomit every time they land.
One of our hens flies over the coop’s fence every afternoon,
which is no great distance to a housefly,
but still all that a hen can manage.
I should have to travel soon.
* * *
One January Grandaddy buys two dozen fertilized eggs,
tells the postman to ring until he answers,
cradles the box on his way to the old Pepsi fridge
turned incubator in his shop, which he monitors for days until
the babies come, unsexed and chirping—
he feeds them under the warm red light, builds an outdoor pen
when they’re ready, a henhouse fit for roosting show chickens
though his hens are humble,
buff orpingtons, easter eggers, a few americanas
who lay in their straw boxes,
dutiful workers, like him.
* * *
Drawing the Cardinal
On the floor of the lawyer’s office
my father tried to teach me how to draw
by penning a grid over a cardinal
in some magazine. He’d brought
an art set, the figurine of a ballerina
dancing, guided by her guardian
angel, and patience.
I told the lawyer, later, alone,
that yes, I do love my Daddy,
even though Mommy says
I’m not supposed to. I cry
so loud that she hears me
down the hall, doesn’t speak
to me for hours.
* * *
I wake and tell the pine trees that I, too, sway with the wind, that I, too, worry about my brittle trunk, how it might snap and I might find myself flat among the blades of grass. I tell them that I worry about the parasites. I drop needles of myself all around, strands of hair on a lover’s pillow, discarded clothes on the floor of hotel bathrooms. I tell the pine trees that I worry that I don’t provide enough shade, that I might one day be unable to stay green, that one day my roots will decompose and no one will know where I stood, how tall I was, how many hatchlings became fledglings among my branches.
* * *
Scarlett Peterson is a Georgia native who received her B.A. in English and professional writing from Kennesaw State University. Sher received her M.F.A. in poetry at Georgia College. She is currently working on her PhD at Georgia State. She is editor in chief of Exhume Literary Magazine, and was formerly an assistant editor of poetry for Arts and Letters. Her poetry has appeared or is upcoming in Five2One, Serendipity, Pennsylvania English, Ink and Nebula, FRiGG, 8-West Press, The Magnolia Review, Moon City Review, Fire Poetry, Cosmonauts Avenue, and Gargoyle Magazine. Her nonfiction has appeared in Pamoja, Madcap Review, and Counterclock Journal.
featured photo: courtesy of the author