When my six-year-old son was painting birds
during art class his principal ordered a full
lockdown because an armed man was
skulking nearby. When I got the news
I could feel my heart throb in my neck.
If you pushed even a single finger to my
I’d surely burst. I think of baby toucans
who fall out of their nests.
a person scoops them in the bucket
of her shirt and brings these fallen birds—
their necks not even fully feathered—to a vet.
When toucans are babies, thier beaks glow
only the palest yellow— the famous rainbow
has yet to bite and show.
Art by Maggie Nowinski.
Aimee Nezhukumatathil is professor of English in the University of Mississippi’s MFA program.
Her newest collection of poems is OCEANIC (Copper Canyon Press, 2018). She is also the author of the forthcoming book of illustrated nature essays, WORLD OF WONDER (2019, Milkweed), and three previous poetry collections: LUCKY FISH (2011), AT THE DRIVE-IN VOLCANO (2007), and MIRACLE FRUIT (2003)–all from Tupelo Press. Her most recent chapbook is LACE & PYRITE, a collaboration of nature poems with the poet Ross Gay.
She is the poetry editor of Orion magazine and her poems have appeared in the Best American Poetry 2015 & 2018 series, American Poetry Review, New England Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, and Tin House. Honors include a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pushcart Prize.