October 22, 2017

The Bird

by Katie Schmid

The bird came to my dream last night, the budgie we had in the one-bedroom
Mom and I shared on Mulford when I was a child. Blue and green, infinitesimal

black stripes dotting his head, sweet skull carpeted in feathers. We let him fly
the house as much as he could, his wings clipped. The bird liked to sit on our shoulders,

to hide behind the waterfall of my hair, and I do not know why he came back
to me last night & why, staring down at his reptilian eye, I confessed to him

that I did not believe in god—except that I remember we found him behind
the couch, his soft body already stiff, having flown the circumference of the house

one last time and come to a stop there. The one bedroom had been small
for the three of us. My mother slept in the dining room, the bird in the living room,

I in the bedroom, the chambers choked with us. I am ashamed. I kept him.
I fantasized about letting him free, but I wanted him to love me. What life is it

for an animal who flies: to be reduced to a thing who skims a low circuit and pecks
at corners, who cannot love a child, who must live in a nest made of hair

and the fictions we humans line our beds with. Perhaps the bird thought we were
his gods. In church I cried for god who loved us and had to split himself to save us

from his wrath. I know that god is not a bird. I know he will not come for me.
I put the blanket over his cage, tell him to stop his chattering, I tell him to sleep.

But something in me brings him back: feathers him, his body whirring to life.
He inhabits me—at night the feathers cover us both and we open our wings.


Katie Schmid‘s poetry and essays have been published in The Rumpus, Quarterly West, Best New Poets and Sycamore Review, among other places. Her chapbook, “Forget Me, Hit Me, Let Me Drink Great Quantities of Clear, Evil Liquor,” is available from Split Lip Press. www.katieschmid.net