Lynne Knight


I used to sit watching him thinking
it was wrong to have married him
because I loved him the way I loved
what was wounded. I’d think back to 
birds I’d watch as a kid, flying headlong
into our plate-glass windows, snapping

their necks, so many dead that pretty soon
I’d just scoop them up and toss them
down the bank. No more spoon-dug graves
or twig crosses, and if they weren’t dead,
if I saw them twitching on the shale,
I’d go on with my game or climb higher

into the maple, skinning the heels of my palms
though I wouldn’t have called this penitence,
as the nights I lay awake beside his snores
weren’t penitence, just refusal to do what I had to.
It took so long. I kept walking away from it
the way I did those birds, until the day

I found the bones of one intact, the
feathers still on it, so phantom, a bone
bird, and when I tried to slide it onto a leaf
it came apart like air. Afterwards I thought
I must have imagined it. I was always seeing
God in moss or standing water, his long cloak

swept to his neck in a rush of rebuke.
You spend too much time dreaming
my mother would say, but when I finally
said it, said what I had to, I got through it
by imagining my words as birds,
flying into the invisible

wall between us. 
Crows or starlings. Black, a greasy sheen.
Nothing pretty about it. Nothing penitent
in the way I said I was sorry,
said it over and over,
my words coming apart like air.