Laura Sobbott Ross
| poetry


for Kyle


You died the day the sparrow flew inside the house.
We watched it rise to the high windows,
query its wings against the glass clouds.
A hundred miles away, propulsion, sunlight—
a galvanized scrim, the intersection of
skin, metal, concrete, teeth & bone;
your ribcage cupping the handlebar
of the motorcycle. Your aorta, mapped & blooming—
a ferocious river. And then you were
back—they told us later—gasping for breath, air
lifted, the blue sky mazing. That bruised heart

of yours flapping
& then coasting windlessly
beneath the propellers, the charged paddles,
the hands in pairs, urgent at your sternum.
The ocean at the edge of everything, gone
silent.             We found the sparrow

dying in the morning. I thought
I’d caught it under a towel,
released it into the dark grass,
but in the morning, it was still in the house.
By that I mean barely moving.
A twitch. A shadow. It died
beside the window of the room I was painting
sky blue, the color of walls between
knowing and not.

Your hair was magnificent, even
flecked in blood. Blonde dreadlocks
that had taken years to grow,
now shorn and bound in plastic
like a sheaf of wheat, a scavenged
Do you believe
in sparrows?

One came back the night we lost you
again, tucked itself inside an old nest
next to the porchlight, while you,
our Lazarus, a new mouth cored
into the base of your young throat,
kept a silent whirlwind there
that sucked us in—bits of anguish,
eyes and mouths in the shape of prayers,
our own breath bargained: Again, raise him

again, please, raise him again. Our Lazarus,
anchored in your own internal shatterings—
tubes tunneled into your veins to keep you
from floating away, stitches teethed
the length of your innards, and falling open
again—the blue horizons
of your eyes.

The sparrow gone for good.

Laura Sobbott Ross has worked as a teacher and a writing coach for Lake County Schools, where she has been named as the inaugural poet laureate for the county. Her work has been published in many fine journals, including the Florida Review, Meridian, and 32 Poems. She was the winner of the Southern Humanities Review Auburn Witness Poetry Prize.

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