15 July 2009 | Vol. 9, No. 2


A black hand across the landscape, then thousands

rummaging the corn's winter wreckage

for plunder.

They rise and clap, swarm, recede. Black is one

of only three proper colors—brown,

and white, the others—for a lady's gloves, mother

claimed. The hands touching lightly now as if

out of concern. Her favorite this black

motion, the trees swept bare except for a surge

of birds. The suicide in the blue room

kept from us for years, the box in the attic

nailed shut. We knew enough, she thought, her children.

How to fold napkins in thirds, not halves, spoon

soup away from us. Her own mother careful

to cut faces from the photographs. Sweeping

up, I find ten centimes, a jack,

the flock now roosting overhead. She believed

in travel. The cacophony of song

a hellish choir, each bird's tune slightly off

from the rest. It's been years since I've been back,

the lies elaborate and smart, the silence

beyond the rush of wings above a slack

gate swinging on its hinges. Let it slap

away. I know how to set a proper

table, knives always on the right, blades always

facing in. Death rejoices to teach the living,

answers I no longer care to know. The field's

a blank and sure to fill again.

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About the author:

Kathy Davis's poetry has appeared in Blackbird, the Louisville Review, North American Review, and other journals. She is the author of the chapbook Holding for the Farrier (Finishing Line Press 2007) and works as a freelance writer and editor in Richmond, VA.

For further reading:

Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 9, No. 2, where "Starlings" ran on July 15, 2009. List other work with these same labels: poetry.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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