Kano Naonobu, Bird on a Plum Tree. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Charles Stewart Smith Collection

Imagine a bird who lays her egg
then picks it up and flies without
landing until it hatches
Imagine a thousand
of these birds chopping away
at the soggy light

Since you died a thousand birds
have daily flown through me

each leaving behind an egg
some of which rotted
some of which hatched
releasing more birds that pecked
at my skull
but not generating the noise
and pain one might expect
It’s more like hearing
someone typing
an endless suicide note
in a room at the end
of a carpeted hall

Always one egg remains in me intact
and each time I yank it out
each time I crack it and crush it and throw
away the shell
it reappears whole

I pull it out and pull it out

I break it a thousand times
but nothing is ever inside

I carry it and carry it           I do not land

Mark Bibbins

Mark Bibbins is the author of four books of poems, including 13th Balloon (2020), and They Don't Kill You Because They're Hungry, They Kill You Because They're Full (2014), from Copper Canyon Press. His first collection, Sky Lounge (Graywolf, 2003), received a Lambda Literary Award. Bibbins teaches in the graduate writing programs at The New School and Columbia University, and in NYU's Writers in Florence program.