Beside the mudded walls
of the casita, sparrows tip
and flit. Ivy spills over fences,
tries to coat the flagstone patio.
But it’s the privet vine,
with its rope of leaves that scales
and chokes the elm.

Hanging from a shaded beam,
the bleached cow skull
with her short horns
witnesses the pace of tree death.
She is more patient
and more aware than the sparrows.

She remembers her own
remaking from razor-beaked crows,
a flank of flies,
the sear of a noon sun.
The dry sky revised her,
crumbled blood-stink to dust –
left her in the company of mesas.
Without flesh, the wind sings
through her not-eyes, not-ears, not-tongue.


Melanie Perish’s work has appeared in Sequestrum, Sinister Wisdom, Calyx, The Meadow, Persimmon Tree, and other publications. Her collections include Passions & Gratitudes (Black Rock Press, 2011,) The Fishing Poems (Meridian Press, 2017), and Foreign Voices, Native Tongues (Burb/Single Wing Press, 2024.) She believes reading makes you beautiful.