The Birds

The birds fly out. The birds fly out.
A simple unthinking, possessed

by metaphysics—an urge
or inkling to move on.

The sound of their leaving
splits me. I lie in bed,

an insufficient woman,
limbs sporadically gone

numb as if bound
by some tenuous intervention.

I have no way of knowing how
or why I will be discarded.

First a hand, then an arm—
when it needles my head I panic

and shake it all back. My eyes
reach for the window. The birds fly out.

I wanted the children. The clatter-
sprouting house, the perfect messes—

hot fevers I could make
better, hot fever of my husband’s love.

Sometimes one kiss from a wet mouth
makes me new again,

for a while. The birds fly out.
A cold ache. Outside my husband

and son are stacking firewood.
Breathing in the dirty scent

of cut oak, maple, birch—brown
on brown on brown.

There is an art to this,
the stacking—place the cut

ends into the scent of danger—
the most prevailing wind.

My husband’s instructions,
my five-year-old—his little hands,

little pink face. I pack this memory
neat into my mind.

I don’t know when I became
so afraid. I don’t know why

so often. I lie in bed,
watch the window, and wait.

Later I will go downstairs
and push the iron into the fire,

flame chewing on wood until
it takes it all completely.

Yes—later I will feel better.
For now the birds fly out,

going south, going somewhere.
What is the name of that tree—

half dead and dripping
with squirrels? Tell me

again the name. The birds
fly out. I should mention

the wind but I forgot how it feels
when it feels good.

In one formidable blow,
the birds fly out.

I am anxious. I am moldered.
I should mention the sky.

KATE HANSON FOSTER had her first book of poems, Mid Drift, published by Loom Press and was a finalist for the Massachusetts Center for the Book Award in 2011. Her poetry has appeared in Comstock Review, Harpur Palate, Poet Lore, Tupelo Quarterly and elsewhere. She was recently awarded the NEA Parent Fellowship through the Vermont Studio Center.