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The Nest Collectors

Then the circuit tripped, and under alley stars
above the breaker box, I found the twig nest
with bits of hatchling shell. I considered the one-
note hum one's home makes, the murmur
of watt and want the nestlings fledged above,
forming their own warble from need-cry. Once
at a wedding's banquet, my father, so often frugal,
spoke on the extravagance of the first course,
of the trellises, in sea caves in China, centuries-old
and twine-tethered by nest collectors. Shouldering
gunnysacks damp with spindrift, they forage
the swift nests for the blood-spittle that binds twig
to twig and is a delicacy seasoning a soup's broth.
I looked for what bound my nest but found
nothing for profit or to pawn, though in my hand
it was round as a pocketwatch—a pocketwatch
with fob that once tethered a bird. Mason of the avian,
father said, sipping from his Seven and Seven.
Then the sea bass came with slivers of scallion.
We used our soup bowls, discreetly, for the bones.

Brandon Som

Babel's Moon
Tupelo Press

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