My God Has the Head of a Vulture

Two poems by Monica Rico

My God Has the Head of a Vulture

Ornithology

After Theodore Roethke
 
To find the owl I must follow the crow  
who says my ears and eyes better behave;  
it’s hard for me to learn what the crow knows
  
unable to refuse the blueish glow  
nor the shiny trinkets my wingtips save.  
To find an owl I must follow the crow  

who says, into an owl I cannot grow  
and takes me to the bend of my eye’s grave;  
it’s hard for me to learn what the crow knows.  

The voice of a crow isn’t caw but snow,  
an arc of ink across a feathered wave.  
To find an owl I must follow the crow  

pick of pine needles where I was below  
pinion of gloss and ash I glide engrave.  
It’s hard for me to learn what the crow knows. 
 
Lost call of the owl is clouded and slow  
wing of midnight and cold blessing me brave.  
I keep walk until sun wake and let go;  
it’s hard for me to learn what the crow knows.


Behind the Back of the Robin 

Even in the city  
the cicadas are heavy  
with song and I am  
too young to call  

a bird anything but red.  
What do I  
name this, when  
the sun enters 
 
my head. I’m afraid  
the flowers are blooming again.  

When my grandmother feeds  
my father I know  
to sit still. A girl  

at my school eats  
ants. She snaps  
off their heads and says  
they taste like candy

and it doesn’t scare me  
like my grandmother does.  
I can’t look at her
 
or the doll she sewed  
me, without arms.

When she leaves the kitchen  
my father lets me eat.
 
The sting of menudo sharp,  
listening for the sound of her  
to return, like a curse.

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