she’s never here without the dog,
only excuse for escape walk the dog.
out the door she marvels that such
a home as hers would have a dog.
she thanks the dog, spelling it backwards
and frontwards. she thinks stifling house,
she means house on fire. dog digs up
the wrung wings of a water bird,
tangled in shad tails. beneath them,
a beaked skull, giftwrapped in seaweed
and the snake roots of last year’s water
lilies. the child’s thumbs smooth the bones
and though she’s never seen a bird skeleton
before, she knows the gull shape of it
the girl shape of it, knows
I am this bird.
her chin floats up. her scapulae lift,
elbows, wrists, fingertips fly
far from her sternum, reach beyond
her dream, catch a thermal.
a gray gull’s wingtips are lit silver
in solos of light – salty hunger
of its scream reed-pitched for fish flesh.
not an ugly screech to her ears.
where gulls are, open sea isn’t far.
she imagines a paint-peeled boat,
dog perched in its bow, the alphabet
spilled across its stern, out of here.