Red, Bird
by JADA ACH

i.

The cat is in the robin’s nest
again. He thinks with his claws:
separates trunk from branch,
bark from bird. When the robins
sense him lurking, their song
is elegy already. Whose nest
will bear the flame of blood?

ii.

In the morning I survey
the scratches on your back.
How bear-like I become
at night. I want to dig deeper,
sharpen into the matter,
and then morning comes.

If there is a bird inside your skin,
some small thing nesting in its den,
I never find it. I only find more tree.

iii.

Are the maples full of cardinals,
or are they on fire?

iv.

I found the bird my brother shot—
cradled it in my hands and carried it
to my mother.
           It’s still breathing, she said,
and moved to ignite the oven.
We placed it in a glass casserole dish,
gave it the medicine of heat.
Waning thing. Not bigger than a plum.

When mom opened the oven,
she sighed and said,
           At least it died in the warm.

But when I looked in
I saw its head had fallen slantways,
and one eye, unmoving now,
was aiming downward,
focused,
attracting the flame.
JADA ACH's poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in the DMQ Review, Apple Valley Review, Southern Humanities Review, Southwestern American Literature, and elsewhere. In 2012 she was awarded a North Carolina Arts Council Regional Artist Project Grant to help fund a writing program in Lithuania. She teaches English at a college in Wilmington, North Carolina.