I’m trying to turn my mother into a hawk.
Her coffee is too loud,
she prefers wings made of rabbit.
I tell her all the redemptions of the hawk,
how he wings gold at sunset
how he spots prey for x miles.
She tells me I should brush my hair.
At night I break the bird
& put its body limp under her pillow.
By morning she is pink clay.
When her boyfriend comes home water-eyed
she is on him, a king’s bird.
I watch her clean her teeth
as if she has a bone to pick with.
I have made my life a study
of silence, the culmination of your
warnings. I hang lilac from the bramble
in our backyard, mother,
drench the peonies in insecticide.
When their heads hang
carpenter bodies fall like snow.
That’s what they get, mother.
Don’t they know what is ours?
A family of groundhogs have
burrowed near, I saw them
waddling in a line by the garage.
A mother & three kits.
Do you remember that house
you lived in for a summer,
how the owner caged
the groundhog before he could
undermine the front porch?
How the creature clawed against
the wire & it was so hot that day,
his paws blood-shiny, mouth
frothing. We tried to shade
him, provide water
but we couldn’t become things
he could trust. I wanted so badly
to free him but couldn’t bring myself
to open the cage door.
Harley Anastasia Chapman has appeared or is forthcoming in Columbia Poetry Review, Euphemism, Not Very Quiet, Soundings East, and Storyscape Journal.