a surrender

Kate Griffin

the first day back
I laid in the grass outside
and marveled at the birds.
they were hidden in the branches above,
but every sound belonged to them
this space was theirs.

I had forgotten what it was like
to have your world
by the music of another species–
bright trills and calls
chirps soft at the edge of consciousness
melodies and duets following some unknown rule–
so I laid there
and listened.
I memorized their patterns
rolled their names over my tongue
blue jay
ruby-throated hummingbird
eastern mockingbird

I laid there,
until the weeds began to
sprout through my fingertips
no one knows how they got there
but they show up anyway,
every spring
I watched the mockingbird return
every hour
to the same bush
where he would open his throat
and cry with joy
and I felt myself ache
as the buttercups began to bloom
under my toenails.
the bees came then, their fat,
fuzzy bodies gliding with such quiet
I watched them alight on my nose,
which was by this point,
covered in dogwood blooms.

enter: the hummingbird.
the urgent thrum of his wings cutting through
the clover winding its way over my ears
his throat was so brilliant they call it ruby,
call it bloody,
but all I smelled was sweetness–
maybe it was the strawberries
creeping their way up my calves.

the cicadas began to
burst through the ground
wings shaking off their
seven year slumber
monks joining the orchestra
after years of silence–
no wonder their drone
was so deafening.
the first one molted
left his exoskeleton clinging
to my finger
i thought about crushing it.

the mockingbird returned
and I swear he had been listening to me.
I stared at him
at his place atop his particular bush
and he stared at me
and I could feel the questions
he had for me
but by then,
the hollyhocks had filled my mouth.

a daffodil burst through my chest.
I closed my eyes.

Kate Giffin is a poet and post-bacc neuroscience research assistant. Her poetry can be found in Shooter Literary MagazineThe Health Humanities Journal, and Glintmoon. She has lived in nine states and a U.S. territory and is currently calling North Carolina home. During quarantine, she kept herself busy reading, gardening, and cooking recipes from new cuisines.

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