Back to the Rookery

by Sara Tracey

By high school she has forgotten
almost everything: the wingspan of starlings,

the taste of chocolate milk and graham crackers,
dead kittens in the compost heap, fish eyes

on the sidewalk. The metal tang
of barbed wire beneath skin, texture of gold

on her tongue. The man beneath the basement
stairs. She’s left me to sleep alone

on the hardwood floor. Left me with my sweet
gum and honeysuckle. By high school,

she has abandoned the eye patch, bifocals,
plastic pony-tail holders. Traded them for spiral

curls and a clarinet. She is all throat and fingers,
forget fists, forget spitballs. Speedo one-piece

and high dives. Her belly button famous
in five townships. All the boys fight to drive her home.

By high school, no one calls her Bird-Witching Carla
anymore. The barn a footprint, foundation.

Crows long gone, back to the rookery.
If she still has nightmares, she doesn’t say.

Sara Tracey is a poet and teacher in Chicago, Illinois. Her chapbook, Flood Year, was released by dancing girl press in September 2009. Her work has recently appeared in After Hours, Arsenic Lobster, Hiram Poetry Review, and Harpur Palate. She is a regular performer in The Chicago Poetry Brothel.

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