Elizabeth Laborde The 2River View, 9.4 (Summer 2005)
The Passing

I am dreaming the dream of a bird set outside a window one
night. You said to choose—you, or the bird, a half-

chirping bird keeping you awake, tiny wings flapping, flapping, flapping,
crawling against carpet, a bird who couldn't find mother couldn't find

baby—or you—a man of thirty-seven years twisting through Kansas,
a place I never cared to visit, a man hungry for fields and ponds and

mice, a man who devoured everything. You said I had to choose,
you or the bird—the bird was dead, you said, a baby without

a mother. I had to choose; your knife cleaved into the windowsill,
Alaskan air poured in, where August was never quite night, moon

was never quite glowing in that place, that funny northern place where
I had to choose between you in fits and starts of mescaline and adrenaline,

whose mother left you in a closet, whose mother left you for heroin,
whose mother left you one day, for good. Had to choose between you

or a bird, you and a truck destined for winter storage, a winter in a remote
village in a remote place with remote people who would never take us in,

or a baby, a bird I could have saved with enough crumbs, with enough
drops of water from my fingertips to its tiny beak, a life I looked for

in the morning, that disappeared, only fireweeds left, stirring
slightly outside the window, orange red against the sky.

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