Roots knot the earth, fallen foliage crowning,
days becoming mast for the night.
The path is pierced by quartz stones
smoke and bone; the scuffed earth glistens,
damp with light. A cuckoo cries,
and I hear my mother calling. I stop
the demand of rock-in-hand enfolding.
Schist murky, I want the stones
to clear, to warm. I shudder once and
pocket the rest. I’ve found another nest.
The tracks—so important that something
has been here before, dropped in the middle,
and left. I follow the tracks—the drop
and tumult of beaks, claws on snow, a vast
fast scrabble. Above, wings and shadows
shift me right, left. I turn but don’t return.
I weed out what is corbie, what is me.
My footprints are stark against the surface,
so many small breakthroughs to arrive here,
in the hollow.
I hear the tap, tap, tap
the drag and hop of
you are here, you should be here.
I am haunted by robins, ear cocked
and listening for the movement of worms,
the slow churning of earth beneath
my skin. Where the grass bends
and the briar whips tangle, the earth is fallow,
the earth is opening. A robin opens its beak,
a furrow in the air; worms spill out.
The streetlight extends its reach;
the night stings with cicadas, with sweat.
Just here, a mockingbird sings to its mate:
wake up and see
soft navy light
earth releasing its heat.
I’m awake for the dreaming, bone white in my bed
a song of the sheets, my sweltering nets.
I hop to the sill and answer its call, enter the night
my life as a bird.
Letitia Montgomery-Rodgers is a newspaper correspondent and poet. She earned a BA in English from Penn State and both an MFA in creative writing and MA in applied linguistics from Old Dominion University. In 2013, she won third place in the Gemini Magazine Poetry Open and was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize in flash fiction. Her work has been published in Gemini, The Missing Slate, and in The Burden of Light: Poems on Illness and Loss, edited by Tanya Chernov, and is forthcoming in Gulf Stream Magazine. A native of Pennsylvania, she currently resides in Buckingham, Virginia.