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Nailing Wings to the Dead

ELEANOR HOOKERELEANOR HOOKER June 16, 2020
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Since we nail

wings to the dead,

she calls ravens

from the sky

to inspect our work. “For flight,”

they say, “first remove their boots.”


She leans in,

inspects a fresh hex

behind my eyes,

takes my feet

and lays them on the fire,

to burn it out, roots first.


We’re the last,

babička and me.

We’ve survived on

chance and bread

baked from the last store of grain.

And as we’re out of both,


we will die soon.

They are gathering

in the well.

We disrobe.

She hums whilst I nail her wings,

she tells me a tale, her last gift —


“This dark stain,

passed kiss to kiss-stained

fevered mouth,

blights love, is pulsed

by death-watch beetle’s

tick, timing our decay.


They know this.

They wait by water,

gulping despair.

The ravens keep watch,

they say the contagion’s here,

they promise to take us first.”


Her tale done,

we go winged and naked

to the well.

We hear them

climbing the walls, caterwauling,

but ravens are swift, and swoop.



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