Bird Song: One; Bird Song: Two; Bird Song: Three
By: Bernadette Martonik
Bird Song: One
She plucked their dirty feathers
until they were clean and put them in a cage
strapped to the back of a bike
and rode for miles through the countryside
until arriving at a small, white church.
Quietly placed before
a cold cut altar,
naked birds dream
a bee what made a rooster
a sting climbing in
screaming without control
into the morning sun.
Bird Song: Two
Remember when I sent you
the photo of the dead crow
when I was out walking?
I loved its still looking at the world dead eye
and slick black feathers, kept.
You told me not to send things like that,
But I kept looking, could not look away.
Today I jumped into the road when
a dead sparrow appeared in my path,
then paused to wonder what might have become of me.
Giving a side-eye to the brown puff on the sidewalk,
I continued down the street.
Poor little thing.
Bird Song: Three
in the bogs is nameless
because I am from Spring
all the glitter and flutter
is far from this birth,
more like drums beating and grunt-
More like golden-red cranberry fields
decomposing into mist,
side fire crackling at dawn
to ward off unheard cackles.
Bernadette Martonik is a writer of poems, stories and essays living in Seattle, Washington. She is currently working on a memoir/essay collection. She has work in Voice Lux Journal, Pithead Chapel, The Manifest-Station, The Extraordinary Project, Typishly and Stone Pacific Zine. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram @BernadetteMarto.
"Each Bird Song explores the juxtaposition of the sacred and the profane in some way. These poems all came to me while walking. The first one started with an image from a show, the plucking and packing of doves into cages. The line “a bee what made a rooster,” came to me as I was falling asleep the night before. I had an intensely religious upbringing and the rest of that poem formed itself around the internal struggle I feel between this earthly body and its desires and what lies beyond.
The second came from two specific walks. I take many photos of dead and dying birds and rodents as I walk. I find I have a different guttural reaction to each creature and each stage of decomposition depending on my own composition that day.
The third came from a stereotypical lush spring Seattle walk while reflecting on a late winter visit to the cranberry bogs on the coast off of Aberdeen, where strange birds I’d never heard before squawked a sound on a lower vibration than I was used to. Something closer to the earth than the heavens. This sound stayed with me."