Poem | Augury

By | Jan 24, 2023
Arts & Culture, Winter Issue 2023

As children, we learn to read ourselves into the world—to find in what we see an intimation of what we feel. Central to poetry and parable, ritual and sacred speech, metaphor illuminates connections we might otherwise have overlooked. In “Augury,” Jehanne Dubrow moves from one sign to the next, tracing in the outer realm the outlines of a private fear.
Jody Bolz, Poetry Editor


We buy the house next door
to my parents, because dread
is proportional to the years.
Two days in, we discover a bird
stiff beneath the blue hydrangeas,
beak and bones laid across dirt,
its body half-stripped,
triangulated, as if even now
it points itself toward flight.
How did they not smell death,
the previous residents,
we wonder. And on the third day,
we hear a knock against the glass.
There’s nothing but feathers
on the back stoop, left there
the way strangers might heap stones
in some desolate stretch of winter
to mark a burial. Later, we find
on the window a gray memory
of the crow that struck its surface,
what the bird left behind precise
as an x-ray held up to the light:
etched wingspan of shadow.
The afterimage looks so quick
with movement we have to believe
the animal was not flung back
from the pane but kept flying
forward and through us—through
this new home we make at the edge
of sorrow, this green boundary
between one generation and the next.

Jehanne Dubrow is the author of nine poetry collections, including Wild Kingdom, and two books of prosethroughsmoke: an essay in notes and Taste: A Book of Small Bites. Her work has appeared in publications including Poetry, Southern Review, New England Review, Tikkun, Jewish Currents and Haaretz.

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