Oology on Plum Island
Starlings or piping plovers, I can’t tell,
hover over barren beach. These days
people fear breathing too near each other,
but I ask a birder with binoculars
what birds they are.
Sparrows, he says, mask-muffled.
I hear sorrows and see my own
furrow reflected in the mirrored gloss
of his sunglasses. Still, his crow’s feet
crinkle into a semi-smile.
Most of the shores are closed
for nesting, he says.
In the same moments sparrows gather,
my son runs his hand over a wooden railing,
catching a three-inch splinter,
nearly the length of his palm,
a hatchling’s span.
While his bellbird howls echo
across a mostly empty satellite lot,
my husband’s hands get right to work,
ungently tugging his skin. I freeze,
wanting to scream but more so
wanting to flee, his wails a bell
too bright. If I were a bird
I might have left him,
like an egg with a hairline crack
two weeks too soon and unsafe in sand,
to another bird, or some other
more studied hand.
Rachel Becker teaches high school English and creative writing in Newton, MA. Her work has most recently appeared or is forthcoming in Heavy Feather Review, New World Writing Quarterly, Funicular Magazine, and RHINO. She lives in Boston, but hails from Richmond, Virginia.