AFTER: Many Songs
In light, the girl saw the crow aloft in flight
but carrying a shadow-color atop his wings,
a black slit of sky yawning mid-morning toward blue.
This dark memory of whole slipped through, apart.
In light, the girl’s nostrils flared, aflame
with air. Her lungs lit up, wrung
to the cusp of dry. In light, there were sudden
pines on which the crow would perch.
He folded up his shadow wings, cleared
his throat again and again. From the valley floor
the girl saw bright his sudden nest—
a circle knot, a crust of pine worked thin.
In the girl’s rasped throat, a flicker.
With legs alight, strong-spun as wings,
she did not feel herself a fledgling.
Her thirst spun sight toward gait.
Across the crust of valley floor, the space
between every red footstep leapt, dark shards
of her body, the whole that wove and left them.
The ponderosa’s needles feathered out for air,
for light, reaching. The sunshine limning
lichen, her girl-limbs warmer than they’d been
at birth, stretched for wonder. Soon she eyed
the nest whose crow had gone, for now,
to sky. The crow whose throat had cleared.
The pine surround, and valley floor below, her
reach to branch shivered the nest whose clutch
of eggs rolled round its shape. Narrow then heavy,
the eggs shone a speckled, thirsty blue like sky
at a pale hour under highest sun. Narrow
then heavy, roundness shone their mothering.
What rolls around inside the sun before
bursting forth, beak first and bright.
When metaphor of our birth breaches
its own rotund bounds.
An egg slipped cool as stone from the girl’s outstretched hand
to dark her inside her mouth. Inside, the eggshell’s pores rolled
each taste-bud round. Inside, her dark teeth. Bone to boneshell.
Her tongue the cradle, her lips a little ring around the light.
The lichen wove a quiet line back down the pine
The air its own threat of coming ground
The pine kept none of the girl’s footsteps
Once down among red earth again, she held
our wet egg between round eye and circle sun,
saw hint of noon color, hint
of dark, of taking in our light
What kind of whole we make:
One girl’s exhale can mean many songs
Katherine Indermaur is the author of the poetry chapbook Pulse (Ghost City Press, 2018). Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Alpinist, Bad Pony, Breakwater Review, Calamity, Coast|NoCoast, Entropy, Frontier Poetry, Ghost Proposal, Muse /A Journal, New Delta Review, Oxidant|Engine, Poetry South, Sugar House Review, Voicemail Poems, and elsewhere. She holds a BA from UNC-Chapel Hill and an MFA from Colorado State University, where she won the 2018 Academy of American Poets Prize. She lives in Salt Lake City. Find her online at https://katherineindermaur.com/writing/