Rekia and Oscar and All of Their Sky Cousins
When they expired, they traded their
hands for wings and became sparrows.
As they looped upward from the pavement,
a scarlet syrup rolled
down their new, furred,
breast like the melted wax
descending a lit candle.
How alive they are, even in passing.
How even when they become fading dots in the sky,
the rouge elixir on their feathers mottles
into a cotton candy pink.
According to birdwatchers, sparrows are also known
as little brown jobs, because of
how difficult it is to identify them by species.
It seems that for once, a mass of brown bodies living in
their resounding similarity will be the very thing that saves them.
Watch them fly with a preternatural ease—
as if their breaths were not built from
the bones of a fresh kill.
They are young, their eyes still awash
with the opal hue of God’s touch.
This is why they glide slowly as they approach evening,
unaware that their kind is not meant to travel alone, under
the blueberry gauze of nightfall.
Sparrows are social birds, which is why they make a rest stop
of the stretch of sky that separates this world from the next.
See unfamiliar kin unite— a thousand strangers chirp into
each other’s drying bullet wounds.
Sparrows enjoy group singing.
Which is to say that their sound is
a chorus soaked in molasses. Which is a gospel.
Which makes the chest glow, shimmering and brassy.
Which is a star.
And when they constellate, do they not need one
another to keep the world ablaze?
Sparrows become sky cousins.
Sky cousins soon learn that family is derived
from the word famulus. Which is a servant,
oftentimes to a magician.
A star is defined as a luminous piece of plasma held
together by its own gravity. Which is a form of magic.
And to make melody in tragedy is to serve each other’s heart.
But a dirge is heavy. They are too tired to ponder the strength
of their own bodies.
Instead, Rekia and Oscar and all of their sky cousins
sing like this isn’t death.
Yalie Kamara is a first generation Sierra Leonean-American woman and native of Oakland, California. Prior to becoming an MFA candidate at Indiana University, she worked in the service of youth and adults all over the state of California in the areas of educational access, nonprofit management, and community-based art facilitation. Her work has been previously published in Vinyl Poetry and Prose.