Elizabeth Metzger

Delete the Bird
November 28, 2016 Metzger Elizabeth

Delete the Bird


My will was just a constant cuckoo
by the hour I arrived, not mine
but calling me the epitome of waste.

He warned me toward him
by an inch of dangling wire
that charged each minute into noise.

I longed for him, not mine. I forced him
with my vision to sing on,
wishing he’d linger like a danger scent

so I’d know he was a danger.
Others would say: “we’ll pray”
“we keep you in our thoughts”

as they gnawed turkey legs
in plain view of my ravishing, not mine.
I pulled my eyelids off and coveted

this not mine bird.
Folding my arms behind me, I faked
withholding so he might nibble

lifelines from my palms
bitter as he was to circumvent
my body for my mind, to acknowledge

I was body first.
I let this brief olympics go till morning,
called him Mine teasingly

and made him think I didn’t want him gone.
But want in wasted times is not the want of life—
it fights the ground and sucks

at every thought a godly laxative.
Did I want his dungeon-yellow
to devise a new direction for my life?

A death not mine but
close enough to hear it as my own
and far enough to hate its mercy, too.

Elizabeth Metzger is the author of The Spirit Papers (University of Massachusetts, 2017), winner of the Juniper Prize. She is also the author of a chapbook, The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, available from Horsethief Books. Her poems have recently appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry Magazine, and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-A-Day, and her essays and interviews have appeared in PN Review, The Rumpus, and Boston Review. Elizabeth is the Poetry Editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly Journal. Read more of her work at elizabethmetzger.com