THE MOST GLORIOUS BIRDS
Back in Tennessee, starlings, BB-gunned
as pests, rose off fencerows in articulate
curls. Here, gulls quarrel over shreds of
bread. I too once favored the humming,
migratory, endangered. That was before
the rain of mussels, seagulls swooping
to peck at split shells. Before a starling
careened into glass, feathers, up close,
the whole rainbow. Just before we built
this nest from the mud in our mouths.
Skies over Catanduva, the tiny town where you
were born, darken as the Amazon burns. When
you last saw whitewashed walls, roofs laced in
razor-wire, you grew your hair out for months
beforehand, crammed on a bus from São Paulo.
Grandma still called your brother’s name. Now,
as days lengthen toward fire season, curtains she
embroidered open and close, struggle for words.
Luiza Flynn-Goodlett is the author of the forthcoming collection Look Alive, winner of the 2019 Cowles Poetry Book Prize from Southeast Missouri State University Press, along with six chapbooks, most recently Tender Age, winner of the 2019 Headmistress Press Charlotte Mew chapbook contest, and Shadow Box, winner of the 2019 Madhouse Press Editor’s Prize. Her poetry can be found in Third Coast, Pleiades, TriQuarterly, and elsewhere.