A wolf.
To be the sibling I never had,
a rough-furred sister keening songs into my ear.

A hummingbird.
Because—inside a tiny cotton-lined box—
I keep the still perfect yet perfectly still body
of a hummer who long ago flew
into a windowpane. Tiny dollop of gleam,
almost weightless drop of stopped iridescence,
she lies within her cardboard casket
that once held a piece of jewelry—
this little bijou laid out on white.

A swan.
To remind me, ever the ugly duckling,
of what I did not, will never, become.

A sea-cow.
Because one took me in, eye to eye,
through an aquarium’s thick glass. Me in murky air,
her under water. For whole minutes, she—
of the gorgeous name Manatee—gave haven
to my gaze while she nibbled her lunch.
With broad whiskered lips, she pulled apart and ate
a whole, loosely bound head of lettuce.
Leaf by swaying green leaf.

A magpie.
To show me a second way to sing.
Her trickster beak wide open,
she swallows the sun whole.