The cuckoo is a pretty bird, she sings as she flies;
she brings us glad tidings, and she tells us no lies.
The two birds were hoatzins.
No one came near them
on account of the fermenting mess inside them
smelling all the way to heaven.
At first, and at last, they climbed toward each
other, downy, steadfast, temporary
claw by temporary claw. They didn’t fly.
Their throats got as soft as peaches.
They cried hoarsely.
They paced out their lives
in shade, shade of the wide
swamp leaves, with their oversized feet.
In between, they were able to get by.
They swam under the water as if it were the sky.
The sun wasn’t raised
in a rocking chair. Each pelvis
has a concave space. There is
one that changes and one
that stays. The moon’s last phase
was the rocking part. The curve
moved air, moving back
and back. What air recoiled
is what air remains. We went
to sea in a boat that day. There
were rocks with ropes. There
were hooks that dulled. The curve
gave what was the rained on
spine. The drag of the motor
was the reef with tide. Before it
broke the wave had been
on time. The birds in the trees
kinds. As the birds climbed
weight jostled a jointed
leg. The rocks kept rope
that the wet withstood. The blood
shed there was not the one
that stains. They say, pointing
up, you must not leave
alone. In the sand, weed
went. In the shade, eyes
leapt. Don’t say when last
is the last of food. We walked
through land to make the ragged
good. The shoots were green
without the help above. A claw
was cornered and made the cornered
move. The eyes slid back. The sea
grew low. They said, stay down
but hips kept lifting
us. The leaves were what
managed to meet us there.
Clare Jones is a graduate of Carleton College. Her work has been recognized with fellowships from the Fulbright Program and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she earned an MFA in 2014.