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"Dead Things" by Beth Boylan

I feel compelled to pick up the baby bird that has died

just outside my doorstep this morning. Place her in my hand

and rub her toothpick ribs with my thumb. Gently kiss

the milky-blue bulbs of her eyes. Yesterday I drove to the city

through rain and came upon a deer lying bent in the road.

How then, too, I wished to pull over and push my fist

into her wounds, sift through her insides as though they were

the yellowing photos and letters I’ve shoved deep into closets.

In front of the theater on Broadway, a man sat still and drenched

on cardboard. How easy it would have been to give him a coffee,

hold his hand, check for life. Now here, in this morning’s fog,

I see I have stood too long again.

The cherry blossom snow lies wilted in cement, and the ants

surround the tiny carcass. They stumble and march onward,

heft the weight of what remains onto their backs.

Originally from New York, Beth Boylan now lives, writes, and teaches high school English near the ocean in New Jersey. She holds an MA in Literature from Hunter College. Her poetry appears or is forthcoming in a variety of journals, including New York Quarterly, Thimble, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Whale Road Review, Peatsmoke, Two Hawks Quarterly, and the anthology Pages Penned in Pandemic: A Collective. Her work has been nominated for both a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and she can be found on Instagram at @bethiebookworm.

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