If You Insist on Reading the Signs, that Bird You Were Is Dead, Girl

Becca Klaver | Poetry

On the coldest morning in decades,
Valentine’s Day weekend, I found

the sparrow, round and dead,
between door and metal gate

after rushing down three flights
to let in the first guest, who helped

with the sliding of the cardboard
and the dropping in the trash.

Eleven more women arrived at my door,
climbing up the stairs to read the tarot.

Clanking and hissing, hot air
rose through pipes to greet us

sitting cross-legged in pairs,
pulling cards. Soon, word came:

The chief justice had died.
(Who pulled the Hierophant?)

Alone again, late afternoon, I consulted
every oracle, seeking symbol or story

to explain the twin deaths,
the thirteen divining women,

but nothing quite fit. I had to admit
that it was winter all over again

and that sometimes things were
just themselves, not stand-ins for

something else. The sun went down fast.
My breath fogged the mirror. I could see

the question was no longer why
the women, the judge, the sparrow

but, after summoning such visitors,
how and where and who was I.