Asking if she had ever seen an owl
in the wild seemed to have summoned it, the one
that swept from branch
to snowy branch, then still, then
gone, above the river’s thin
ice and fret. The flocks pull
toward numbers, you know, the ones
of light and refraction. The ones
add up to zeros.
One skyscraper. One lighthouse. One
communications tower. One volt.
It is a winter morning and gray and he holds
her hand under the wooden blind, wool
against wool blunting the touch.
She leans into the angle of inclination,
invisible to the blue and the wounded.
The ones that would translate
loss if each were a letter dropped: Red-Eyed Vireo
for an o. Swainson’s Thrush for a y. A vowel
for the feather. On ne parle pas la même
langue, they circle and swerve. When that word
disappeared it was sudden and magnetic, left
a space the size of a city holding in the day’s heat.
I thought to utter the name
in the newspaper
“a disturbing trend”
“her case is typical”
Douglas / Agua Prieta
Naco / Naco
Nogales / Nogales
Sasabe / Sasabe
Lukeville / Sonoyta
through the wire / de alambre
From where you walked
ripened prickly pears
into jelly, honey wine, red dye
Let us tell you a story
“Smugglers usually charge
for taking children across”
Agatha Beins teaches in the Department of Women’s Studies at Texas Woman’s University and rides her bicycle around Denton, TX. She has poems published or forthcoming in The Laurel Review, Blackbird, and Pebble Lake Review.