Water Children

That awful thunk and suddenly the arrival of
the minus hour, the quick undoing of small beings.
Feathers, beak, bone, its one quick eye
eyeing me. I found it where it had fallen through
the happiness of rain, unsutured from a fickle sky,
a small unraveling. An intemperate sweep of narcissi,

unfurling ferns, light splashed up the trunks of firs,
all this glory notwithstanding. The way words
put down on paper disappear to nothing,
tiny glyphs in mud. I left it there to die,
an outcast in its only home, without fear
of me to startle it or take from it its leaving.

How like birds, the waiting ones who
hover near, the ones I brush against at night,
their watery world, air-starved or free of air,
almost real. They visit from the bottom of a lake,
a world away, accompany me, who might have
been a mother. The way words appear from

nowhere, falling through the branches,
to scent, disturb, and quicken life. Only
later did I return to find the sparrow gone,
wrenched back from rumored sky, the sunny
wind-stirred voices of neighbors on the path
beside the garden. It called from the arbor gate,

offered me the sight of it and flew into
a thicket. Strange being, hand-sized throb
I found between the falling and the rising world,
where children bike down gravel paths among
feral cats and woozy bees into the holy-moly
opening of day. That crack. So near and slight, ajar.

A photo of Kathryn Hunt, author of "Reading Hamlet" and "Water Children"

Kathryn Hunt

Kathryn Hunt makes her home on the coast of the Salish Sea. Her poems have appeared in The Sun, Orion, Rattle, Crab Orchard Review, Radar, The Writer’s Almanac, The Missouri Review, and Narrative. Her collection of poems, Long Way Through Ruin, was published by Blue Begonia Press, and she has recently completed a second collection of poems, You Won’t Find It on a Map. She is the recipient of residencies and awards from Artists Trust, Ucross, and Hedgebrook. She’s worked as a waitress, shipscaler, short-order cook, bookseller, printer, food bank coordinator, filmmaker, and freelance writer.