A stone thrust from the most rudimentary sling,
a cut of goat skin, a cord, the body’s momentum:
the stone will land where it will.
Bone, organ, meat: human as study, an anatomy
model, glass exposes the body’s interior workings.
See Figure A: the heart, the size of a fist. See its chambers.
Or human as paper and curls of limbs, arms embracing shoulders.
To wait is simpler than a child’s thoughts or a pool of water,
or love—father’s helpless love—simpler
than the long vowels and flick of tongue against my upper teeth
as I mouth love, father, as I mouth thrombosis—
the coagulation of the red humor, nodular and quiet
and evicted from a deep vein. I fear it, just as I fear
night will come undetected. I think, how we die
in the language of night. The hard mass of platelets
entered the heart and he seized brain dead, and in ninety seconds
was completely dead. A nurse uncharged the defibrillator,
a doctor slid his hands down over the eyes, shut him into night.
A Bird in the Cedars
A bird sings from somewhere in the cedars,
not the noon catbird or the red-breasted robin
primed to snare the earthworm from its furrow,
the first species of bird I had learned to identify
watching the early-morning multitude in the front yard,
their maize-yellow beaks probing the bare patches
as the worms surfaced from the imbued March clay.
The summer I was seven, I collected worms in a Mason jar
filled with dirt and Folgers; my mother told me
they would grow gigantic off coffee grounds. Within days,
the contents of the jar dumped into sodden mound
underneath the peonies, ants sifting through it
to collect the worms’ distended bodies. I once watched
a colony of fire ants devour a dead sparrow on the porch,
hundreds riddling it’s parts, blood-matted feathers strewn
across the flagstone. All I could do was wash the pieces away,
the water running in rivulets between the stones.
A man of experience said poetry expresses either love or loss.
For which did I begin with a bird in the cedars?
Listen to it song with naked opinion. Listen
to each note ascend as if to remind us
that our voices are cracked stones in our mouths.
Raised in West Virginia, Jae Dyche’s Appalachian roots are integral to her voice. She received her MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) from the University of Maryland. Currently living in Virginia, she is a high school ESOL Departmental Chair, where she hosts a reading series for local high school students. Her poetry and artwork appeared in Twyckenham Notes, River Heron Review, Backbone Mountain Review, Banango Street, and Calliope, where she served as Production Editor. At UMD, her work received recognition from the American Poets Prize in Memory of Anais Nin. She is working on her first chapbook.