And I am Also Thinking About Tomorrow

— Suzanne Césaire

I encounter dead birds
on walks through tunnels
crape myrtle juniper ash they are almost never
starched just explosions
plumage on sidewalks
sometimes cradled
beneath shade of bush

I am not sure why I so often notice
bodies except I frequently stare
at the ground as if it is going to dissolve
under my feet and devour me
I do not trust the earth
she eats everything I love

I stop to memorialize posture of a crow
mourned by a soapberry
a pigeon shrouded inside burst of buffalo grass
and once a dove I kneeled next to
kissed a gutter delicately
arranged like a rose bought in the old souks of Tripoli

petals pinned between thighs
of a book I carried through Customs
to give to a woman who told me
she had a lot to say about dead birds
and then said nothing more

I waited
for an explanation
studying the remains of a blue jay
at the foot of a magnolia

I think about what sort of woman I fall in love with
I should fall in love with the kind that chases after
a snake with a machete
not the kind that kills it
not the kind who knows
what a dead bird means
and replaces an answer with an absence

—Mónica Teresa Ortiz (from A Dozen Nothing)