“Work With, Not Against

the grain,” I remember my stepdad,
the carpenter telling me,
as I play with the olive wood birds
he has carved for me.

I stroke along their pinions,
make their smooth fragrant
shapes dive and swoop, or,
follow others as if in a flock,
I run wildly, raise them above
my head. “Ouch!” I shout,

as I stumble against a thorn bush,
blood drips and I cry. Tears
and blood mingle on the wooden
wings are inhaled by the grain
so that their chests move in and out
as if they have breath, claws
leave tracks in the sand, some
have red breasts or wingtips,
a flutter and they rise onto the limbs.

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