Join The Dillydoun Review in celebrating National Poetry Month with

A Poem by Brigidh Duffey

She took junk shop treasures home to me
like a crow stealing buttons for someone kind:
A porcelain doll in a sunflower apron,
A wicker basket full of miniature linen geese,
A short-sleeved t-shirt with a red hood.
It was an autumn habit—storing up garbage
for a long, long winter at home.
But little girls cannot eat garbage.

Most of the crows died after West Nile,
a consequence of life in swampland.
In summer, the floodwaters would pool up
in the basement past my ankles.
She used to sleep down there, a bed in the corner
by the washing machine. She tacked postcards
to the exposed two-by-fours in the walls
and did loads of laundry poorly.

There’s no one left now to do grandmotherly things;
No constant percolation of foul coffee,
mixed light and sweet with Splenda and half-and-half.
No frightening tins of tiny dead fish in the cupboard.
No slow, lotiony hands with long fingers
to braid the scent of Vicks VapoRub into my hair.
These are small ways to work on a small heart
and they go into the cremation oven with everything else.

I don’t know how much time has to pass
for someone to become long dead.
But it had been years, anyway,
since I had let her touch my arm or feed me a soup
accidentally seasoned with white sugar—
so I don’t know when to start counting, but
now and then I do see the great-great-granddaughter
of a bird who got better.

Brigidh Duffey lives in Brooklyn with two ill-mannered cats. She studied Anthropology and Gender Studies at Mount Holyoke College. Her poetry explores gender, spirit, and identity. Her work has appeared in Panoply, The Blood Pudding, and From Whispers to Roars.

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