POEM OF THE WEEK: Mikko Harvey
Bird Call Association
Andre got up and gave a crow call, the same one
he gave every year—well, maybe a little sharper
this time around, but still not enough to take the cake,
so he sat down.
Thirteen of us sat in a circle. Sat in a circle
of metallic chairs in the Gamemaster’s basement.
Jessica, a newcomer, tried a hawk call. Sit down,
Jessica, you have much to learn, was the general
unspoken feeling. And so she did.
There was Jon with his overeager chickadee
and Desiree with her competent but lifeless oriole,
both sitting down in turn.
Then Martin, the mailman, surprised everyone
with a barred owl call. The Association
looked at itself nervously. This was the first time
someone had brought an owl call to the circle.
But—the general unspoken conclusion was—
no harm done, and in fact, thank you Martin,
this was nice, but sit down now, because nice
is not enough. And so he did.
Next up was the one we used to call Sarah
before she became a Burning Wing. She sang
a black-and-white warbler, utterly clearly.
She sang it again. Her face looked calm.
You could tell she already knew her fate.
She sang it again. The Association rose to its feet.
She sang it again. A certain ecstasy spread
through the room like a gust of wind.
And she never stopped singing it—
not when we lifted her to our shoulders, chanting,
not when we carried her through the shadowy hallways,
not when we peeled off her clothing, everybody wanting
to touch the sublime, not even when we slid her bare body
into the tub full of gasoline and the Gamemaster struck
and dropped a single match, declaring: Burning Wing.
Mikko Harvey is the author of Unstable Neighbourhood Rabbit (House of Anansi, 2018) and his poems appear in places such as Field, Gulf Coast, Iowa Review, and Kenyon Review. He currently lives in New York City, where he is the Joseph F. McCrindle Foundation Online Editorial Fellow at Poets & Writers Magazine.