Illustration by Marina Mika


We know you only by your absence.
The hole left behind, pressed
through the drifts like something
fallen from a great distance.

Wings shorter than we would have expected,
stumpy and round as a sliced orange peel
and your body a footless bell.
Why you, a winged, flying thing

would land each time flat on your back
is a puzzle. Perhaps you were dead
long before contact, like suicides that leap
from the hundredth floor.

Perhaps you were pushed.
Clearly, you have vaporized. Heavenly
bones dissolve, asteroid-style,
in the midwinter air, and you leave

no unfurled annunciation, no pearlescent
feathers for us to find. You are only space,
a lack of something, our wish
for what you will not give.

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Jacqueline West is the author of Candle and Pins: Poems on Superstitions (Alban Lake Publishing, 2018). Her work appears in journals including Goblin Fruit, Mirror Dance, and Strange Horizons. She also writes fantasy novels for young readers; her latest is The Collectors (Greenwillow/HarperCollins, 2018). Visit her at jacquelinewest.com.

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