Natasha King

Paper Birds for Paper Girls

She was the girl with her sleeves full of papers
and she grew up to be the woman with sleeves full of birds.
She shook out her sleeve and it was
a grocery bill, a folded crane, a thrush at twilight.
she grew up to be my mother, my daughter, me.

My mother shook all the birds of her heart out from
under her wrists and threw them at me.
Crucified under paper beaks, I breathed her mother's last.
I moved from city to city and my sleeves were crinkly with
boarding passes, ticket stubs, post-it notes. Safe.
Innumerable lineages of paper women
creased my paper brow with their kisses. Safe.

My mother is an albatross riding a high easterly wind.
My daughter is a dream riding safe in the veins of a pine tree somewhere.
We are a crumpled cocktail napkin full of stains
and cell numbers and sorrows, an index
card with the most important words immortalized,
a whole family of ducks and swans and stooping herons,
paper and flesh, so lost and so found.

Natasha King‘s poetry has appeared in Constellate MagazineOyster River PagesOkay DonkeyGhost City Review, and others. She lives in North Carolina, where she spends her spare time writing, prowling, and thinking about the ocean. She can be found on Twitter as @pelagic_natasha.

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