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As the Sparrows Fall
              
                            “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?
                            Yet not one of them will fall to the ground
                            apart from the will of your Father.”
                                         -  Matthew 10:29*
 

That December sparrows began dying.
We found them in the yard, handfuls here
and there like oblong rocks tossed
on top of the perfect snow.

I watched from the window. You bent
down, careful not to press your knee
in wet earth, and collected them
into Ziploc bags destined for the outdoor bin.

How I worried that winter, wanted to know what
I’d done wrong to bring such plague
upon our yard: were the feeders teeming
with bacteria, had the black oil sunflower seed gone bad?

The cat was happy. Day after day he dragged
a stiff bird to the mat then disemboweled it
hoping to impress us. Instead
I cried in the kitchen

when no one was looking, wiped my face
with a dishtowel and listened
for the muffled *thud* of the trash lid,
the crunch of your boots in snow.





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The Lampworker

Knows fire beginning to end, makes
her living in an Ouroboros
"flame fluid form flame"
Propane escapes the hose tip, then the dull flap
of ignition blooms to dense blood-orange blaze.
Her fingers spin the mandrel.
The stubborn Moretti ink blue rod
glows hot and swells before releasing
its hold. She hums, pulls
the bead back when it threatens
to lose shape in the fire. Years have taught her
    "never panic".





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When John Eliot Wore the Dress


Eleven squares of sidewalk
to your house. A paper grocery sack slung
on my little hip, half full of Hershey kisses
and caramels that stuck to cellophane wrappers.
Afternoons we sat in your driveway,
arms elbow-deep in the bag,
imagining what clouds tasted like, or
how our names would look
once we learned to sign them in cursive.
We skipped, hid, and secreted
ourselves to one another in the few special hours
before dinner, that time that was entirely ours,
buttoned up and warm like the air
inside a winter coat. Your dark curly hair
was always matted to your forehead.

And then your mother brought out her wedding dress,
your mother who was always nudging
your father in the ribs with her elbow.
She’d outgrown the side seams
years ago and so she presented it to me,
asked what my princess name would be,
would the ugly step-sisters be invited to the wedding?
Her breathless questions stopped, her full shiny face
darkened at your small "Ta da!"  There you were
bigger than sin, twirling in the dress, face smiling
at the sky and chubby fingers clutching the veil’s edge.

It would be easy to say you were a flower
blooming, but you were not. You were a galaxy
being born, a soft spiral pulling all fragments,
all dust and debris to your tiny, radiant core.
I lay in the grass under the floating tulle and lace,
half drunk and dizzy from your heat.
Your mother frowned from the porch.





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Northern Harrier

The hard, hammer-claw
of his beak is the most certain thing
this day, not the gift in a V of geese
flying south above telephone lines,
not the totem of the mockingbird
who bawls for a lover to the full moon,
not the grief-heavy neck of the heron.

No. This hook, this paroxysm of bone that hunts,
that tears, that catches my stare, that asks
                                        Do you burn, do you burn?
                                    Did you ever?





_ Leigh Anne Hornfeldt lives in Kentucky with her husband and three young
sons. Her poems have appeared in Foundling Review, Literary Mama,
Untitled Country Review, Plain Spoke, and elsewhere. Audio of Leigh Anne
reading her work can be found online at Soundzine and Red Lion Sq. She
is currently finalizing her first chapbook, East Main Aviary

 

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