Ten Birds

Mary, Queen of Sorrows, came
To see my garden green
I showed Her all the flowers where
They dropped as frost cut clean

I showed Her all the fruit that fell
Where tumbled on the grass
And trampled earth in mud will stain
The boots of all who pass

We set a tea set in the field
And served Her as She pleased
We poured sweet earth washed watery
And sliced this pie of me

A crust of mud, a crackling kiln
A dry, sandblasted pie:
Limestone-pocked the filthy seal
we cracked to ten birds fly

A pigeon for my beating heart
Red cardinal for my soul
Two grackles there for my great fears
One is grey and one is gold

House sparrow for the work I’ve made
A mockingbird for anger
A scrub jay blue for all lost things
Dear chickadee for laughter

The titmouse for my courage
To be tiny takes the brave
Black vulture for the meat of me
No flesh is ever saved

Ten birds’ flight before the Queen
Each freedom chips at ivory
They scratched Her eyes and battered ears
And shattered statuary

We buried Mary, Holy Queen,
In a frostburned barrow
We hope someday She’ll rise again
When birds return to harrow

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