winter birds

Winter’s an off time for hatching, the birds gone south for warmer pastures, warmer skies. The pigeons and crows left to rejoice and bicker over the half-frozen scrap spill outside the garbage bins. The hens were indifferent, warm and cramped in their hatcheries set back off the highways that hacked through farmland and prairie and suburb, their eggs rolling down the aluminum ramps, end over end. Gone were the songbirds, the Canada geese, the vast twisting clouds of starlings. Where the water lapped unfrozen, ducks gathered, beaked the cold silt from the riverbed and stood on the ice to beat their wings, the water flung into the thick snow, the frigid water.

 

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Excerpt

He made maps. As though this place was not known. Like you couldn’t find it on the Rand McNally. If anything, his were more artful, more fancy and imaginative. Like those charted by New World explorers. He used a resin ink refined on an open flame and the soft vellum I made for him. Landmarks were given names hugger-mugger; Horse Tooth Rock, Crow’s Perch, Dirty Root Lake. The places he hadn’t been, the places that wasn’t known, were identified by swaths of white and empty, as though waiting patiently for the gods to populate it with life.