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Birds of New England

Mary-Kate Wilson

Washington, DC

Washington Latin Public Charter School



My great uncle told me a story

about a bird and a bb-gun

and the way his nightmares now revolve

around something sky-blue and bloody.

He said it sang a melody he wanted

to hide in his pocket,

to make tangible like a pebble or a playing card.

Keep it close and quiet to fall asleep to.


I’ve decided that he shot a bluebird,

because they shine off the leaves like lazuli.

A mythic bird in a simple town,

an epic prize.


I didn’t know,

he says, surrounding the story in bubble wrap

as if God were listening in.

I didn’t want it to die.

He’s nervous, almost crying.

He can’t look at the twisted wings

on the driveway, even now.

I only wanted to kill it.


A flash of blue

like a marble. I marvel

at the thought of bone on black gravel.


I'm sure that bird had an egg

hidden deep in her thin stomach,

lined like a sensitive tooth.


A wax-winged creature of pinion and cartilage;

I want to find just the right

notch between wing and rib

that must have snapped,

must have been pulled inwards like taffy,

for him to look down and see

nothing but a soft organ.


It fell, limp, like laundry.

To be washed and ironed, refolded

and refilled into his drawers by his mother.


I wonder how it feels to watch clay form in front of you,

to mold into a wishbone and feathers

stuck on Connecticut ground.


The opening lines of this piece lure me in with the promise of a story. Mary-Kate Wilson gives readers a vivid glimpse of "something sky-blue and bloody" but also a glimpse of pain and regret. Wilson finds "just the right / notch between wing and rib" for readers, and drives the poem straight into the reader's heart.


Mary-Kate Wilson is a junior at Washington Latin PCS in Washington, D.C. She loves writing poetry, as well as crafting collages, earrings, zines, and even her own personal deck of tarot cards! When she’s not doing any of this, you can find her running in late to musical rehearsal.

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