the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night


Spring 2013



Meg Kearney


I carved hollows into bodies of trees,
nailed boxes on poles in sun-dazed
fields; I appealed to the oldest witch,
keeper of charms, to visit me in my

dreams, whisper where the bluebird
resides. My dead mother—the first
one—appeared instead. I pretended
to sleep. She was happy I'd found her

other daughter, her son, but there was
no bluebird on her tongue or among
the folds of her dress. Soon she
disappeared, as is her habit, into

the ether. If you ever catch that bird,
said my newly discovered brother,
it'll change color in its cage. To him,
survival is happiness, as good as it

gets. Years later, my other dead mother
found me standing behind the house
in LaGrange, where the bird used to nest.
My mother took my hand and there it was

in my palm, a gleaming sapphire, warm
to the touch and throbbing with what felt
like desire. This mother couldn't stay, but
will come back as she can. And the bird?

I've learned its song as well as I know
my Sweet Love's face. There it is now,
tossing its notes out of the maple
like so many blue stones.


Another Night Tending Bar at The Junction

She wasn't good with names, but she remembered
what they drank. Rum & Coke had a nervous twitch
and a lazy eye, and had worked at the bank forever;

he usually skittered in with BV & Ginger or Tangeray
& Tonic, but never both together. Johnny Walker
Black wasn't a top-shelf tipper—Forget him,

advised Club Soda with Lime, who had to pee
every hour, waiting to drive her Jack Daniels home.
Tequila Sunrise couple played every sappy song

the juke box knew, slow danced after two rounds,
got teary after three. The night a stranger strolled in
wanting Irish Coffee & Cream, Jack Daniels jeered,

You must be one of them petunias from Cal-eee-
Irish stood at least six foot five; said, San
Francisco, we can take this outside, wouldn't want

to harm the civilians.     Uh-oh, said Rum & Coke,
I'll bet a million this ends bad. She remembered that—
remembered Club Soda yanking J.D.'s arm, her wild

scream, a whiskey breeze, wreck of glass, and what
looked like grenadine splashed across the bar. Lying
on the booze-sticky floor, eyeing her cell phone

(just out of reach), she wished Wild Turkey were
there with his half-keg fists; she missed Pineapple
Pecker, longed for Screwdriver and Sex on the Beach.



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