Monday
Apr012019

Sestina

Jade Hurter


 

with repeated words taken from the Migratory Bird Treaty Act Protected Species List

The only color in the sky was black
when you said let's go and rose
like a tide toward great sweeps of snow.
The cold air was hard to swallow,
sticking like a knife in the throat.
The moon sank. This was common

to each morning, then. Come on,
put the whole day in your mouth.
I hate to look back
and watch the slow wither, a rose
of jericho. Window panes thick with snow.
The knives you watched me swallow.
My name wasting in your throat.

I asked for your hands around my throat.
I wanted to feel uncommon,
the queen all dressed in black.
God of your body, I rose
and fell, a bobbing clamshell Venus. No
longer the grainy pearl you swallowed.

Never again will you beg me to swallow,
never again push yourself into my throat.
No washing machine, our come on
everything, the slow ebb of the moon's black
shadow slinking through the rose
petals I coughed on the floor. Red snow.

Your face now a shadow language has no
name for. Something I'd rather spit than swallow.
Something I clawed from the back of my throat.
They say this is common:
the way a wound goes black.
Springtime's small tongue that grows and grows.

In my life, I have seen two species of loon: red-throated, and common.
Once, before, in the unsnowed Ontario forest, I swallowed
the song whole. And once after: their bodies black, throats a dull rose.