by Brendan Sullivan
“Bare knuckle winter
barely left us awake or breathing
and your face
bruises too sadly,”
she said,
her voice
catching you
around the throat,
as she wiped the snow
off the porch
where your coat lay
in an angry
pile of water
and your little brother
tied his mittens
to the swing.
“Nothing can move
in this cold.
It sears the birds’ wings
to the sky
and you can hear them
crying out
near the barn,
close to the potatoes
going black and blind
in the cellar.”
You count the crows
pecking out the fence,
what they look like
under the ice
of the bird bath
and if death
like the smoke
curling around her mouth.

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