Look for Orion and the Migrating Birds
It’s not until you walk away
from all the words, like dirt ringing
the city, that you remember
what they mean.
The forest’s edge burns
with floating embers,
fireflies carpeting the understory
like an upside down firmament
befriending the filth.
Junebugs skeletonize the foliage
in an early summer revolt.
The real carnage
not in the leftovers, puckering veins,
but in the phantom outlines of loss.
The ground becomes audible in the dark.
Nightcrawlers rise to the cool and humid surface,
a complete system.
The line between earth and night and body
deliquesce. Only the sound of a great wheel
An entire life leading
up to this single moment,
a fox, pure silver in the full moon’s
blue orchestral light,
dancing in a shimmering winter field.
Imagine if the words came back
to us, not the ghost of a word
haunting our mouth’s empty hallways,
but blood and bone and alchemy.
Imagine what would happen
if we looked up and spoke.
Imagine if the stars spoke back.
At last, the hummingbird.
Carolina Jasmine laces my ankles
and that is all I’ve ever wanted
to be—an empty vehicle,
a ladder for ascent. A line of ants
travel my bone-ways
to haul the crescent moon of dirt
ringing my nails.
And that is all I ever wanted
to be—a tool without the means to weaponize.
Goldfinches build a nest in my hair,
bringing with them air,
leaf-litter and weightless bones.
That’s all I’ve ever wanted to offer,
safety the same as home.
These are no great accomplishments,
nothing needed but a surrendering.
The real sacrifice is coming,
a challenge that must be met
unflinchingly. At last
the hummingbird, long beak glazed with nectar.
It approaches my open eye,
an eye I must not close.
Brittney Scott’s first collection, The Derelict Daughter (2018), was selected as winner of the New American Press book prize. She is also a recipient of a Joy Harjo Poetry Prize and a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Florida Review, The Missouri Review, Best New Poets, The New Republic, Narrative Magazine, Cincinnati Review, Booth, and elsewhere.