Bird Laundry by Joe Cottonwood


Bird Laundry


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.