bird by bird

i am a poet first
before a flute player.
but sometimes my head is so full of branches
obscuring the sky
that i cannot hear anything.

15 with a pen and paper
writing the last note to only note that
it would be my last –
i put my fingers to my neck and

the pulse rocked me back and forth: i
swung as a baby in the cradle
gurgled an affirmation of life
dribbling out the mouth like powdered milk

boy didn’t love me back so i
listened to prokofiev
realised i could fit myself into that howl
of love rising from the violin string
so full and keening for touch.
a lone wolf emerges from hibernation in
my chest cavity,
hold on to my wrist and
crumple over – forget any boy and return
to the rush
of blood from heart to

too young when i watched my mother
let the wolf eat her alive
she penned down what it felt like
as if all her insides burnt at once
the friction of losing hope a whip belt chafing
on her will – i read it and cried
but what i remember most
is the wolf consuming her
becoming her
and as one, they howled
the torturous cry of giving up.

run towards the sea when it is near
because i know it will sing to me.
rock back and forth and i will be
a sweet naked baby in its cot the steady
lullaby reminding me of strength, how easy it is
to be pulled
into the waves
and i will cry, letting my tonsils spill
all the broken glass swallowed.
let my howl merge with the tide-song
in a love story where they are made for each other –
once again breathing
in and out. in and out.
and the wolf lies sound asleep.

wind on the leaves is a curious jazz
open my windows and coo to me.
this is how i stroke the wolf, brush its fur and
nurse with tenderness.
the wolf and i are friends.
sometimes he gets angry and claws at me
and i know because my heart
into its undoing
and the oddness of the music echoes through my organs
sick, with eyes wet
put the wolf to sleep again
realign my bones and shrink into the corner
transform into a bird on its shoulder
open my small croaking mouth to
and let us both free
for a little while.

so if we are ever to know what
lays out the sky canvas for us this god
cannot be written or spoken to
i think
but only heard,


Image from “Cranes in the Sky” music video, performed by Solange Knowles, directed by Alan Ferguson and Solange Knowles

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