I pick them off the ground—
don’t hold them long. It pains
me to see damaged barbs
no longer pushing air,
shedding rain. I suspect my cat, wonder
what ways a bird might lose
feathers and still survive.
Old pillow cradles my head.
Worn out seams leak broken quills
when I make the bed, not downy
but stiff as if made in a hurry
after scalding, after slaughter.
Atrocities hidden out of sight.
Jan Chronister lives in the woods near Maple, Wisconsin. Her chapbook Target Practice was published at the University of Wisconsin. She currently serves as president of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets.