Original illustration by Pedro Gomes


Not even children who brave the street
Will notice the robins, mistaking them for nightingales.

When one is asked what a bird is meant for,
She’ll point not to the sky, but to her shoes

And the white specks. They’re not stained, she’ll say.
She’ll not talk about bombs, just the absence of birds.

Tell her she’s right. The darkest place in the universe is
Inside one’s body—which is no metaphor.

This news will lead to the neighbor’s stoop,
Behind the fence only adults dare climb.

Mark Yakich

Mark Yakich is the author of three poetry collections from Penguin Poets, including The Importance of Peeling Potatoes in Ukraine. The second edition of his unconventional guide to reading and writing poems, Poetry: A Survivor's Guide, is forthcoming in August from Bloomsbury. He teaches at Loyola University New Orleans.