Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick's work has appeared in Salt Hill, Stirring, Versal, The Texas Observer, Devil's Lake, Four Way Review, among others. She is listed as a contributor of both poetry and prose in A Shadow Map: An Anthology of Survivors of Sexual Assault, published by Civil Coping Mechanisms. She has chapbooks out with Thrush Press and Mouthfeel Press. Hardwick serves as the poetry editor for The Boiler Journal and her first full-length, Before Isadore, was recently published by Sundress Publications.

Also by Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick: Before Isadore Francine in the Garden HummingBird Mind

Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick

The Brain Like An Orchestra That Can Play Many Tunes

I learned a lot about birds from my mother. How, to help preen, you can use nails to bring up new shoots, new plumes. How a domiciled bird needs attachment. If depressed, they may take to plucking. Only after I had exhausted other options: my teddy bear, my dolls, fake lashes pulled one by one, sometimes in groupings, did I begin with my own hair. Instead of listening in math class, I'd pull an eyelash, feel the eyelid snap back into place. Better was the tug of scalp. On a good day, the root intact, I'd run strands through my nail-bed, a satisfying grit to it. The problem with the body — there's more of it. * If I had been older, would I have let him follow through with it. I was twenty and manic and had mostly quit hurting myself. Is there still a buzz underneath, like when I'd pick the body, the pain a grounding rod. Don't anchor me and anchor me is said in the same way. When I told him, No, he was preening the part that needed to feel alive. I let him do it. * In Oklahoma, my brother killed a falcon by accident. He wasn't careful with the muzzle, where it pointed. * Where the inside bled out, I can still taste. The bird's inner ear is the same — small amounts of iron in neurons help it find North. If I let the wound run too long, the skin cracks where iron dries. * My brother said it took a week for the falcon's mate to stop crowning his head in oak, circling wings to keep a constant reminder over his daily course to the library. He'd sit, wait for its kik- kik with no response. * When my mother scratches new shoots, in appreciation, the bird's beak unhinges. I know the release of jaw. I know how ball joints work, * how they snap. When I tell them I didn't want to be with men who punch me, they cry as though I'd been the one with hands around neck. I still wonder, does the choke make coming better knowing you made another woman stop breathing. * There's fire under my skin — A young bird imprints on the sun, stars to orient. I used him as a landmark. The problem with pain is that it's necessary as a point of reference. What was North back then was a clustered fist. I'm told I look like a bird, he laughed, traced my youth- scar with his nose, described the "olfactory map." A bird's eyes interact with the brain in its "Cluster N." That's how they know where to fly. I needed his fists to know, what I wanted, did it exist.

Glass: A Journal of Poetry is published monthly by Glass Poetry Press.
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