ornithology

Isabella Cho

Winnetka, IL

North Shore Country Day School

Poetry

at night your arms hang over my shoulders, paled
by the moon’s blue light. only now have i realized that goodbye

 

is not something spoken but a piece of the body shed
and othered: a fingernail, ear heavy with song, mouth brimming

 

with pearls. in the dark, moving through the city, i leave fingers

on park benches, slip teeth into the pine wreaths lining alleyways.

 

i would turn avian just to find your shadow amidst the blind millions

clawing for peace. i would sprout feathers from my pores, watch

 

as epidermis expands, ruptures and leaks blood to accommodate wings.

marrow empties of nutrients, vertebrae cordons hollowed spine, lips

 

peel over teeth, harden into black keratin. flight is just the act
of cutting my own feet. i still don’t believe that i won’t see you again.

 

i can’t believe in loss until the coroner drags the body to the station,

joints stiffened, tender only in the promise of what has been emptied

 

from the pewter skeleton. truth is an axe above my head. i can smell

the executioner, hands wrapped in black fabric, sliding the whetstone

 

back and forth. the bucket expecting my head is eyeless, cold.
in these moments of danger i think of you, of our meeting again.

 

my lungs, wrought of air. your figure outlined in the dark.

from my throat, blue birds.

EDITORIAL PRAISE

Brutally enamoring in its precision and power, Ornithology is a piece that arrests one with the unattainable desires and shattered iniquities of simple people, fraught with the very humanity that makes us so gently imperfect. Conveying worlds of unfettered feeling, each letter of the poem kills softly and soothes sharply.

Isabella “Izzy” Cho is a senior at North Shore Country Day School in Winnetka, Illinois. An identical twin and ramen lover, Izzy loves writing poetry, watching TV, playing tennis, and tutoring at her local Korean school.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR