Today's poem is by Jessica Young

When he left, how many birds did he leave?

When he left, he left one bird. He left one bird
on the counter next to the sink, feet taped down
with a two-inch rip of cellophane. He left that

one bird, there, taped to the counter, and then
somehow got one bird balanced up against
the sliding door of the medicine cabinet: so

it might fall out and onto. Behind it, another
wedged in the back corner, between the near empty
Band-aid box and the mint toothpaste,

squeezed to half its original size. When he left,
he left three birds. He left three birds in my
closet—one in the shirt drawer among blue

shirts, one in the stark folds of soft cotton sheets
in the laundry basket, one silently hung from
a thin wooden hanger. In the kitchen, I found

one in my cereal box, pacing the eight inches,
its wings pinned to its body, two in the pantry
all sealed up in plastic spice-bags and packages

of rotini, five others silent in the fridge, still,
sequestered on one shelf in bottles of sauces
and spreads, overbearing. No one told me

birds can live, at most, three days without
food, and no one warned me that dead birds
sink in a carton of milk, sodden. I see them

now, see them everywhere—a small starling
amid the detergent bottles, a brown finch
wrapped in skeins of yellow yarn. He left

birds. He left so many birds, left so many
god damn birds I don't know what to do
with myself. Birds in every direction, birds

when I close my eyes. Birds in the shower,
the rain, and I need you to clear them,
please just help me clear them, before
they're all I see and all I want.

Copyright © 2011 Jessica Young All rights reserved
from Only as a Body
Bateau Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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