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Diagnosis: Birds in the Blood


The hummingbird's nervous embroidery
through beach fog by our back

patio's potato vine
reminds me of my mother's southern

drawl from the kitchen: She's flying,
flying like a bird!
I've heard that

as a child I involuntarily flapped my hands
at my side during moments

of intense concentration. I'd flutter
over a drawing, a doll, a blond hamster

in a shoebox maze. There are ways
to keep from breaking

apart. My guardians. My avian
blood. I believed

birds bubbled inside me—my own
diagnosis—though the doctors called it

something else: a harmless
twitch. A body's

crossed wires. The lost
birds of my childhood

nerves have never
returned. But when you held

my elbow as we walked the four
blocks to the boardwalk,

we saw the brief
dazzle of a black-

chinned hummingbird—the first
I'd ever seen. It sheened

and tried to sip
from my sizzled wrists'

vanilla perfume. I knew
a single one

from the magic
flock had finally found me.


Anna Journey

Vulgar Remedies
Louisiana State University Press


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