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.

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