a million thousand hundred shadow birds that
perched across a single tree on the far side of a
silent muddled winter-freeze lake.
Black feathered wings scraped across
fields of grass in frozen hibernation;
a great blanket of navy blue and
black beaked undertones.
My boots crunched against
frosted fallen feather leaves and my
fumbling steps and frozen fingers furled
against the November chill.
We perched like shadow birds
atop the hood of your dad’s old
coveted red car that was in
fairly bad shape, but still
got the job done,
and wet the taste of pride in our mouths.
My brother – your brother, I suppose, slept in
the back seat and
pretended that the ground was not so cold outside
and we were still as close and thin as lake water and its
layer of frozen ice.
Your brother – my brother, I suppose – sat below us
against the hood
between our feet and pretended that
he was a part of something as close and thick as
thrumming blood that whooshed and pulled through
millions of huddled-close birds.
Our parents, your dad and my mom,
and not the other way around,
stood with expectation and calculated
awe and fooled us with their
perfect balance of distance and affinity and
let the blood thin just enough to keep the
It felt right, somehow, not tradition but
something new and raw that I’ve
only just come to comprehend now,
with age and loss.
We were possibly a family, all cuddled and
waiting for something to happen, but
enjoying the wait
more than the event.
And while now I’ve come to see that
people change and years pass, and that
we made a funny picture of a pseudo-family
I will still remember, fondly
The morning I spent sitting Indian style atop
your father’s car and the
picture of our parents holding hands against the frost
and the way
everything and everyone fell silent at the
migratory pattern of the shadow birds.