I suppose, looking back, the birds
did start each day with a warning.
I just never thought it was for me.
We are disappearing, you and I.
We keep looking for the life we can no longer remember.
Every day, I become more
stone-faced, even as I tell
the birds I want another chance
to feel beautiful again.
I wish I knew another way.
Listen, I just wanted to feel
my own strength
vein through my body
like lightning, like the beating
back of air with impossible wings.
Is this why I became a mother?
Only gods can birth new worlds.
Except my bird
body was pinned back,
opened, stitched back together.
It still doesn’t feel like home.
through my body, keep me
close to the ground.
At this point, we are only
I only wanted to drink the sunrise,
to not feel so empty so young.
I am growing moss.
In my next poem, I want to stand
on the roof, ready to fly.
When the horizon flashes green,
I won’t question the magic. I will launch myself
off of the gables, past the trees, and into the night.
Why is this so hard to believe? I am not yet
old, only the age of my mother
in all of my memories. She forgot
to tell me the way home.
I only know that the wind in the trees sounds like an ocean.
I know I don’t have to explain
myself to you—
sister, bird, stone.
Tell me again
about the cardinal—how she arrived
with the long winter,
snatching sticks and gathering
the safflower seeds we had scattered
in the snow. Remember how we marveled
at her olive-red feathers—
she betrayed her name,
like all women named after men.
We watched her weave a nest
from forgotten things. We tried
on her fire-mouth. When the thaw
arrived, we heard her fly away.
I didn’t thank her for showing me the way.
Amanda Roth (she/her) is a poet whose work explores motherhood, embodiment, the climate crisis, and revisionist folklore. She is the author of the full-length poetry collection, A Mother’s Hunger (2021) and is featured/forthcoming in Wild Roof Journal, Marathon Literary Review, Moist Journal, Sunday Mornings at the River, Vaine Magazine, and elsewhere. After nearly two decades in the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in Central Texas with her husband and two sons. Find her on Instagram @amandarothpoetry and Twitter @amandarothpoet.