Entertaining Egrets in Limbo

Entertaining Egrets in Limbo
by Jennifer Crow

Mist spools around
dark stick legs
as they pick their way
along the shores of shadow.
The tallest clatters his beak at me,
white crest lifting, fanning.
The others pick spirits from the fog
and gulp them, struggling, down.
Hunger dwells with us all, here,
emptiness calling to emptiness.
I offer my arm to them,
the fatty part just below my shoulder
marked with a name, a date,
a dead dream. The egrets peel away
strips of my old self, swallow them,
sip the mist between gulps.
It is a bloody thing, surrendering
the past. Only when bone shows
through, only when the fog, stained pink
rises to shroud me, can I rip down
the last shreds of humanity.
Wings spread in benediction,
the egrets bow to me, gather themselves
and take flight. As I pull together
the ragged edges of my flesh,
I touch quill-ends, sprouting feathers.
Pain brings beauty, wings from broken skin.
I stretch, bow, swallow the broken remnants
of my soul—and fly.

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Jennifer Crow decided she wanted to be a writer at the age of eight, and never outgrew her childhood ambitions. Her poetry has appeared in a number of print and electronic venues, including Strange Horizons, Mythic Delirium, and Ideomancer. She lives near a waterfall in western New York, and dreams of strange landscapes.

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