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                                    Melanie Carter

Day breaks. Swallows enter the house of him.

They circle once, then tuck their wings
and line up along his shoulder blades.

The room beneath them is vast and empty.

Just a tiny nest of green in the curve
of his hipbone. The top of a tree. A recollection.

When a storm bears down on the shore of his chest,

the birds huddle together, heads turned back.
They can see where they have been.

Yesterday skitters backward like a dry husk.

All day, he leans into the wind.
He walks, and they sway with him,

balancing from one foot to the other.

Who knew the body could bear such tender
ballast? Or that its leave-taking

would flutter like gladness across his back?

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