Megan Merchant is mostly forthcoming. She is the author of two full-length poetry collections: Gravel Ghosts (available now through Glass Lyre Press) The Dark's Humming (Winner of the 2015 Lyrebird Prize, Glass Lyre Press, forthcoming 2017), four chapbooks and a forthcoming children's book with Philomel Books. She lives in the tall pines of Prescott, Arizona.

Author's Note: A Thousand Paper Cranes is now available for pre-sale. I am donating $2 out of my own pocket for each book sold to the National Resources Defense Council.

Megan Merchant


I dress the winter-window with plastic. The chill vacillates between here and there, weeps the way a prayer holds longing. A strew of hawks flock to the fence, they drop feathers to find their way home. Some snag the tips of branches and prong the morning dark — a mercy, a plea. They have come to tell me about god, to watch me peck at suffering, strip my shirt, share my ribs. They beg to let their beaks daub the holes this year has left with bits of prey, promise it will hurt only enough to catch the scatter and fury of my pulse, package it neatly into a bomb, because god, they claim, is useless without a church, and together we shall make the tallest out of bones, a choir from the mass graves, and chorus of tweets. He will leave as many as it takes to house an audience, their fear will hold them quiet enough that each breath, against his ear, will echo applause.

A few weeks ago, I sat in front of my computer and read story after story about the people trapped in Aleppo. They had taken to tweeting, giving their pleas a world stage. But like any audience, our job description was limited to witnessing, not to rewriting the script. I felt broken and helpless: immediately wished that I held some fragment of power to pull them from the rubble: any job where I could bend their fates toward safety. But, I don't. And even those that do have jobs with some semblance of power sat disabled. It made me think about god and free will, and how so many of those tweets were worded as prayers. This poem is rooted there.

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