Lilia Marie Ellis

The Grackle

The chill from last evening’s
cold front seeps under the window
and down onto me, as heavy as one
thousand pieces of broken glass on
my chest.

A halfway-mutant sort of light floods inside,
that not-quite-dark which makes up the
winter months when a single cloud takes the sky.
It feels like all the other mornings.
Winters always feel the same.

A grackle outside, maybe ten, fifteen
feet from my eyes paces back and forth,
plunging his beak down into the mud.
It looks like he’s trying to pluck out something buried.

Maybe he’s looking for treasure. Maybe
he’s digging up a memory he’d left, soft
in the loamy dirt to age, before changing his mind.

He doesn’t see me.

I press my face against the window
like I did as a child, cool skin on frigid glass.
My blood is growing stale each minute, I know.
Flowing right from the outdoors,
my skin going grey.

I try to get his attention.
“Grackle,” I say, doubting he can hear.
“Grackle, what is it you’re looking for
out there in the cold?”

The grackle sways his head a little,
back and forth. Perhaps he does
not understand. Perhaps he would
rather not talk about it. Perhaps
he is stuck in his own head, running
through the motions: should I trust her?

For a few minutes we sit there,
each staring at the other’s glassen
image, like ghosts you’d mistake for the living.

He turns away from me. He opens his mouth,
then closes it, then opens it again.
For a few minutes more he holds it like that,
swaying his head, unsure what to say, hardly able
to force the weight out from his throat. At last
he screeches, loudly, slowly, unburdened:

“The writhing you feel means you are alive.”
and slumps down into the fog.

Lilia Marie Ellis is a trans woman poet from Houston. Her work has previously appeared in publications including The Nashville Review and Kanstellation. Follow her on Twitter @LiliaMarieEllis!

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