The 2River View

Kathleen Balma

Dead Cardinal

—after Rilke

Scarlet clouds against blue carpet:
a half-circle of feathers on the floor.
As if the last act were a sweeping
of the wing. Nothing was ever this red.

I found him lying in the living room.
the round, pouting profile of the breast
arched up the full lip of the body,
feathers pleated and poking inward.

Across the room the cat
sang a crying through closed mouth,
or an offering through the lung.
(I barely heard her vent her rant.

I was listening for a soaring.)
The bird’s eye, stiff in its openness
like a new fruit in a tree blossom:
poised and aimed for falling.

Kathleen Balma is a Fulbright Fellow. Her poems have appeared in various literary journals, including Crab Orchard Review, Mid-American Review, storySouth, and Puerto del Sol. contact