What the Bird Lady Sees

Sometimes the floor reflects the sky, even when the roof is closed...

I watch the snow forming a film across the skylight,
making it darker here, although I know outside is blinding.  I peek in even more.

She builds wooden birdcages when she's sad,
or when she's happy or angry,
hungry, lazy, or wishing for more.
They sit in her living room,
on her kitchen counters, at the foot of her bed.  They hang
from the ceiling, line the garden outside, rest on her wooden deck,
all of them with open doors.
They appear to be empty, but
she can hear the birds inside, birthed from the wood
shavings, singing all together in a beautiful cacophony,
free to come and go, slip through the walls,
spend a night on a tree branch.
They choose to stay,
and she feels their light footsteps across her arms,
finds their feathers in her cereal bowls.

She knows their colors, natural tones without Crayola names:
grey-blue that makes the bottoms of storm clouds seem heavy,
the dirt that cakes to bare feet by the Bay after it rains,
the yellow of a daffodil's underside after three days of April sun.
They are the colors of weather.

They sing reassurance to her hands as they work,
urging wood to bend,
carving tiny designs,
coaxing more invisible birds into their homes.

Help Me Be Silent

stay here and help me be silent;
be the thorn that nests in my throat.

I feel a lump forming, your body
that I can not swallow,
and the tears bring relief to my eyes.

an empty can tumbles through the dust
and the crack in the window sill grows.
stay here and help me be silent;
clutch the words that squirm from my stomach.

these people are figments and marionettes
that disappear with the shadows at dawn.
the crickets stop and the steady beating of Earth slows.

everything is still for an instant
with none of the silent noises
that make rest what it is, the creaking
of a hammock, the settling of old bones,
the clenching of milky thighs.

stay here and help me be silent;
tie the world in a knot around your ring finger.

I cough and the spell is broken;
you escape my skin, the clouds continue
to press against the sky.

my hands fly to my neck to tell you
I wish to be choking, wish for my words
to be entangled in your hair.

you turn away, and I see the flowers
springing from your footsteps;
"stay here and help me be silent"
I pray to the weeds that wish to be more.
Jennifer Viets
Jennifer Viets is a mildly entertaining high school senior who spends too much time on her writing and too little on
homework.  She has lived her whole life in a small town where there’s not much to do if a person has no imagination.  
Therefore hers was, from an early age, maybe a bit too nurtured.  The majority of her life is devoted to writing, gay rights
activism, and sleeping.  She is convinced she will become very widely known for two of those activities.
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