Omens

by Nathalie Anderson Issue: Spring 2016
So strange I’ll state it baldly: two embryos turn up
on the porch one morning, each to its own flowerpot,
sheltering there under the Thai, the lemon basil,
nakedly pink, the size of a fat thumb, each wriggling
in its skin.  I can see they’re intending to be birds,
can guess they’ve fallen featherless from great heights – though
                   (strange)
no tree shades us here, nor any scrap of nest or shell
fell with them.  Their limbs move; their mouths gape; they bulge
                    with dark,
broken but still possible, a test I’ll never pass.

Just days later, when the boy comes mowing, another,
this one with a tail.  It’s pink and pig-like, nosing blind
into the high grass where the mower slashes, wriggling
in its skin.  I can guess it’s intending to be squirrel,
can see it’s fallen hairless from great heights, though it’s shed
its origins with its future: no shreds of nest or
broken branch rest with it.  How large must they fall before
I take the meaning?  The world goes on
aborting itself while – obscurely responsible,
ineptly irresponsible – I shovel it up,
lay it down in the bushes for the neighborhood fat cats.


Nathalie Anderson

Nathalie Anderson’s most recent book is Quiver, from Penstroke Press. A librettist as well as a poet, she directs the Program in Creative Writing at Swarthmore College.