The Noiseless Flight of Owl Wings

Monica Rico

"It wasn’t a rumor. It was true. My great grandfather flew beside Pancho Villa. There was no goldunless it was in the teeth. Is it possible for the airiness of dust to be a kind of common gold?Heavy on eyelashes or wings palpitating to release particles of horse hooves, cracked leather,the part of the land no one lays claim to. A casualty brought by walking with the folded goldof a corn tortilla in one hand. The other wanting to point at great grandfather’s noiselessflight. The thing Pancho Villa told his men to do at night. To be an owl and keep the goldmasked in the mouth. The only drop of light should come from the guns aimed at the sleepingsoldiers. The jewelry of the bandolier’s beaming bullets hung from the chest in salute and gold.My great grandfather was shot out of the sky, still alive. The federales pulled out his feathersand kept him conscious for three days before they stopped the wind from his throat in the goldof midday. Where sweat, blood, and the fluid that can no longer be called tears turned the dustinto mud. His dead wings hidden with corn husks by my great grandmother, a goldeneagle before she disappeared and allowed the moon to reflect off her forehead in chorus.The talons of her husband who’s call and response had not been preserved in a ring of gold.She ascends to the heavens to braid the plumage of my great grandfather Jacinto into Orion’s belt.When I look up I say, Rico and wait for her wings and his eyes to recognize me with a flash of gold."

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Monica Rico is a CantoMundo Fellow and Macondista who grew up in Saginaw, Michigan. She is an MFA graduate of the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program, winner of a Hopwood Graduate Poetry Award, a 2021 Good Hart Artist Resident Recipient, and works for the Bear River Writers’ Conference. Her poems have appeared in Sporklet 12The Breakbeat Poets Vol.4 LatiNext, Anomaly, Pleiades, Black Warrior Review, BOAAT, and Split this Rock.

Spring 2020, 46.2

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

The University of Alabama

Editor
Jackson Saul

Managing Editor
Josh Brandon

Poetry Editor
Kelsey Nuttall

Black Warrior Review is named for the river that borders the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Established in 1974 by graduate students in the MFA Program in Creative Writing, BWR is the oldest continuously-run literary journal produced by graduate students in the United States.

BWR publishes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, comics, and art twice a year. Contributors include Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winners alongside emerging writers. Work appearing in BWR has been reprinted in the Pushcart Prize series, Best American Short Stories, Best American Poetry, PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize, New Stories from the South, and other anthologies.

Black Warrior Review is indexed in Humanities International Complete, the Book Reviews Index, and the MLA International Bibliography. ISSN: 0193-6301

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