Hunger Mountain - Vermont College Journal of the arts


by Holly Virginia Clark

I imagine it’s what breasts feel like
welling up, except this was in my ears
and the tiny roots of my hair, and I wanted to touch
the silver down under her perfectly shingled feathers,
slate-gray, violet, mauve, the iridescent splendor
of a puddle of oil. There were others at the train stop,
no room for conspicuous tenderness. To touch her,
they’d say, just reminds us, every filth smuggled
onto this train, the shiny bars and plastic seats
and godforsaken rutted floor. But every rule
for joy reads Do it, in wild fistfuls, in a devastating
aching embrace, Do it. She won’t hurt me,
not her, not her brethren. I lower my finger, nudge,
the way I’ve done with pet-store cockatiels, hoping
the gracious creature, city-dusted
but clear-eyed, will recognize me and climb on.

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