Necks

Aimee Nezhukumatathil

 

When my six-year-old son                    was painting birds
during art class                    his principal ordered a full
lockdown because                    an armed man was
spotted
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
arm,
I’d surely burst.                              I think of baby toucans
who fall out of their nests.
Sometimes
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.

 

From Hunger Mountain Issue 22: Everyday Chimeras, which you can purchase here.

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.