In the Atlas of Birds
Kirsten Kaschock

In the atlas of birds it is written: "warblers
are born with eyes embedded deep
within their throats; they quickly come
to addiction — admiring the sight
of their own song, they revise it only
slightly, yet relentlessly repeat
the uninspired variations." The book
also comments at length on larger birds.
"The backward knees of the ostrich,"
the atlas tells, "propel the animal
across inhospitable grasslands
at over thirty miles per hour." Mistakes are,
as often as not, improvements (so says
the book), could one ignore aesthetic
concerns — ostriches being "a species
whose countenance prohibits such god-like
acts as flight." The atlas describes the beat
of a hummingbird heart as "a quickening
so rapid the blood flows in a continuous
stream, much like fluorescence." Could I
be the light in a bird’s veins, the vain
eye in its throat, the glittering speed
that compensates its hideous perversion —
I would allow certain inaccuracies
reported of me. I am not, I
have not, these qualities. Regardless,
I prefer an uncelebrated life, absent
from the books of category, avoiding
the fact I am — faulty, and
deviant as any bird — reducible miracle.

Honey and Old Things by Dorothy Wayne Russell
Great Ones by Geoffrey Nutter
Peloponnesian Wars by Geoffrey Nutter
In the Atlas of Birds by Kirsten Kaschock

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