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Song Inside a Fossil

She’s still looking down at her baby after 4,800 years. Her fossil has the curve of mothers telling endless stories in the dark. There were three birds in the cage, she says. Two died of poisoned water. Though birds don’t know what poison means, the survivor has the memory of thirst and of two silent birds. If birds’ memories are circles, a line must bisect them, tracing their migration to places that are neither homelands nor exiles. But what if the world, for birds, is all exile, till they leave it behind? The day her baby came into the world, she carried water to him in her voice. She sung so close, he could hear her heart beat like a bass drum. He won’t remember the seeds her words scatter, but won’t forget the debris of what was shattered from every wingbeat recalling her.

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