Ortolan in Winter by Mercedes Payton

o,   my         gaunt     and     recurring             winter            these        yawning    and    

aching   mornings            are smattered           with  the chill of   the stale    white      tea  leaves

      i     steep     every dripping     dawn          pulling   arthritic  handfuls from      

              a  decorative blue   tin        the  greasy     kettle steaming    displeasure 

from           the dirty               stove burner         i’m always dragging      

myself     down from        the same old        gray   vault      of     heaven    

 brain   matter             far-flung            and   drifting     

    i hold  a    whole nativity         in my mouth         words wet with       creation   

         how   do   i   say

         cherish?             in the night           my body is        a  stage show    of    shuddering     

 and     when   it     rises              goose-pimpled     and     damp        with hurt

    i want to confess to it       that i’ve stopped         snapping      the bones of     small birds     

between my teeth           to remind myself of breaking          and    i no longer    call        

         my       heart        a   harbinger          

these days      i don’t  know if           i still believe   in benediction           but every morning     

 i       check the   footage           from      the camera   a friend installed      on her bird      

feeder           and  i  watch      a hundred   hoggish beaks            take       what is  given     

         so they can            survive                the  same   winter

Mercedes Payton is from Manhattan, KS. She is a graduate of Kansas State University and currently works as a librarian. Her work has previously appeared in the online journal, Disquiet Arts.

One response to “Ortolan in Winter by Mercedes Payton”

  1. Perfect imagery from this poem to lead us into autumn. Matches my mood and love the format!


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