As the days waned she began to nidify
feathering every exposed surface in the house with harshly beautiful dune grass
and revarnishing layer by languid layer the broken cradle in the attic
where the fumes would leave promptly and it was easy to hear the gulls

in time she bore a boy-child, fantastic and strange
he slid out raw and red and unlovely, and she loved him instantly
seeing in him the best of her absent lover, herself as basket to shape his growth

she would not hear the cookie-cutter spite that followed her whenever
she strode through town, enduring the abandoned alleys and the failing facades
to buy a little butter and more flour for baking their daily bread
and sell eggs still warm from their mothers’ bodies

she loved his beady eyes that watched her, solemn, as she kneaded the dough
or danced a little on her way to bless each plant with its allotment of water
she loved the way he practiced being human with the whole effort of his being
and in return she told him stories upon stories until her throat cawed
so that he would know which way was north and how the world began

one day he might leave her for his father’s people
she put that knowing on every morning with her clothes and breathed it steady
then swung her son up into the air and bounced him so he would flap, flap his arms
and crow with delight, for she loved him so.