The birds congregate on 694 and 61 every morning
to let go of old resentments and figure out their next
major move. Routes are plotted in advance like tours
of duty. These are the birds that don’t fly south but
weather the storms of a barbaric Minnesota winter.
These are the birds that snitch on the albino squirrel who
empties the feeders on the entire block of Edmund Avenue
while the birds resume congregating and dreaming of seedlings
raining from heaven.
The Musty Smell of Shelter
It hurts you to talk about it
but it hurts you more to not talk about it
is that therapy gibberish?
To replay pretend discussions
in your head as you follow the path
past the musty smell of your family tent,
your kerosene stove
you pick blueberries in the sunshine
while swatting horse flies
as sweat stings your tear ducts.
After your stomach is full,
when you feel berry drunk
or sun bleached dry enough
to talk about
no longer exists.
Run into the lake
slip and slide across slimy stones
until the water reminds you to hold it in,
hold your breath until you hit bottom.
Once a long time ago
people never thought about talking,
only the primitive nature of feeling full
off of venison and hickory coffee.
Those days remain undocumented as a result
but the pretense lingers behind submerged eyes.
A Mere Decade Plus Two
Twelve years have passed since I last looked seriously in the mirror; I gaze
at myself and realize my left eyebrow has turned white somewhere along the way
and I’m shorter, I do believe, than I was even yesterday. As I adjust the rear view
mirror this morning something else draws my attention; I look beyond the mirror
and realize it is all an illusion; I will embrace the white eyebrow all the way to the
grocery store where upon I will purchase beets and paint my brows a lovely
sauvignon that takes the plucking urge away and red is a make up color if there
ever was one. I watch the strangeness evolve.
Suzanne Nielsen, a native of St. Paul, Minnesota, teaches writing at Metropolitan State University. Her poetry, fiction and essays appear in literary journals nationally and internationally; some of these include Mid-America Poetry Review, Identity Theory, The Pedestal, Word Riot and 580 Split. Nielsen holds a Doctorate in Education from Hamline University.