My preschool daughter
tells me she doesn’t want to grow up.
She wants to grow down and be a bird.
I unload the dryer and dump warm laundry
over her worm-wriggling body on the bed
as the phone rings and it’s Tai
who says he woke up this morning beside Alicia
who was dead and he should have recognized
her little fade-out episodes as transient ischemic attacks
but it never occurred to him because she’s only 34
and now Alicia’s dead and what should he do?
He’s in Jamaica; I’m in California
so there’s not much I can offer
except to say I’m so sorry.
She was so wonderful.
What a shock.
I’m so very sorry.
And she with a sock tangled in her hair,
she who heard,
who sees water on my cheeks
says sometimes birds fly into glass windows
and bonk their beaks
and that’s the bad part about birds.
Joe Cottonwood lives under redwood trees in La Honda, California dodging wildfires and playing with grandchildren. He is the author of the underground novel Famous Potatoes. His most recent book of poetry is Random Saints.