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Instructions for Finding a Dead Bird

once the finality of it, the wings stripped down
to a tiny puzzle of bone, the sadness came
too big to drop in the belly of the yard. the
beak half cocked in a smile, a recollection of rain
or your mother’s lumped breast, and
you knew how it had to be washed:
the death from it’s feathers, mites around the
eyes and talons that tore through a spider
web. when the bird was dry you carried it out
behind the house, laid it’s body out
the way you did your mother. how they came
to tell you she wore a yellow dress. how the
bird laid eggs that hardened in the sun
and years later, no one asked about the mother and
the eggs, or how it felt to know the earth had dried.
the bird was never a metaphor. you held it up
the way you would a dead snake, the way it all
asks to be cleaned. and there will always be birds, the
repeated lesson that god isn’t here to make the rain.


Christen Noel Kauffman currently lives in Richmond, IN with her husband and two daughters. She has a shih tzu named Dr. Watson who doubles as her writing assistant and spiritual guide. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in Booth, Willow Springs, The Cincinnati Review, and DIAGRAM, among others.

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