Kate Peper

It Begins and Ends Here

My pillow rocks and bangs
through another wash cycle.
Millions of feathers breaking down
from the weight of water.
When the pillow’s finally flat,
I will love it even more
for its dust of crushed shafts and barbs.

Feathers like these warmed geese
that flew over lakes named Rice or Star.
After their frost-clear barking faded,
I’d find down drizzled in fields, roadsides.
Good pickings, I thought, for a mouse’s den.

Or that oriole nest I found
fashioned from feathers, birch bark
and dental floss. Tacked to cattails,
it sags with its egg weight.

As a girl, I left my crude watercolor
of geese and cattails in the rain.
Days later I found it under the lilac,
warped, mottled and more beautiful.
Look, mother. I made it with God’s help!

Today, I pull off the road
and turn the radio up.
Some story about bank thieves, 
thousands stolen. In the chase,
a bag blew out a window. The wind scuttled
fives and ones into woods and water.
Fishermen found them weeks later
woven into a beaver’s dam. All bills
whole and spendable.