In the waiting room, a photograph
on the magazine-tiled table: the skeletal remains
of a bird, delicate as needles, curled
over speckled rock. The beaked skull
scissored an angle of air, wing bones parted
in a pantomime of flight
where stubborn feathers still clung.
The obscene, bleach-white ribs
like an unhinged bracelet encircled
the pellets of plastic that had starved
the bursting animal dead.
After, instead of the gray-scale
ultrasound, alien as Jupiter’s striated shell,
the nurse at my side had searched, eyes pulled
edge to edge as if she were scanning a passage
for a seed-sized heart in contraction,
I remembered the heart-sized body rotting
in a blast pattern of feathers and bone
tracing tongue-want and stomach-need,
ardor and immolation—venom’s root
is love. A bearable hunger begins.
Maggie Queeney holds MFA in Creative Writing from Syracuse University. Her work has appeared most recently in the Southern Poetry Review, The Southeast Review, and Handsome.