Tittering finches at matins.
Owls’ somber notes at vespers.
Dazzling long-legged egrets
like nuns in black stockings.

If thunder is angels roller skating,
grackles’ sweeping murmuration,
must be angels airing sheets,
preparing beds for long winter nights.

And this jay who cocks his head,
red berry in beak, looks askance,
more vibrant than photograph,
more vital than artist’s rendering –

is bird. More than mere metaphor,
beneath flocculent feathers –
bright lapis sky with cirrus –
lies a fluttering heart.

Ann Howells edited Illya’s Honey for eighteen years. Recent books: So Long As We Speak Their Names (Kelsay Books, 2019) and Painting the Pinwheel Sky (Assure Press, 2020). Chapbooks Black Crow in Flight and Softly Beating Wings were published through contests. Her work appears in small press and university journals.