Feathers, Sister, Falling

When the dead speak from clocks
and gurneys it’s November, the month
the girls came down

from bedroom windows and steeples
of churches where they’d never
bent their heads. Down their mouths

and down their long arms gold
or brown as leaves beating
the limp gray drumskin sky:

this is the month that taught us
to talk on the phone
about their names, and about all the others,

their skid marks and headlights, glass
like ice, and if the glass or the sky
was a warning. This month

can’t be trusted. When it comes
we stand in our doorways deciding
to look down

or across, how we’ll carry
our heavy shoulders, whether to cover
our hair. Bodies line the curb

like wet leaves. All month the clouds
are long bones descending, or
feathers, sister, falling

into rock where their names
and dates are trapped
like the first birds in ancient silt. You know

this all. You know soon we’ll get the call
from the old black phone
in our hearts’ kitchens,

hunched like a crow
just before the terrible shaking and cawing,
before the body waking to the broken news.
Sally Rosen Kindred’s first full-length poetry book is No Eden (Mayapple Press,