Echolalia

She had habit to call everything that flew bird:
manta-rays swept through the reef when she leaned
in for a starfish — not a fish, really, more an asterisk
drawn in lopsided crayon; a fist, flush with a pulse.
A ray interrupted her reach, its glassy back huge,
a balloon at the top of a sky that was ripped away.
Bird
, she said.  And the beachcombers, they laughed.

She had habit, and as a for instance, grew to marry
a pilot. No counterfeit fly-boy, but a daredevil
who dove blind to spell out her signature,
a serenade gone up in smoke. Like her, he had
a hollowing thirst, and at the church steps
stopped to let loose a capture of rice,
a feast for fellow aviators, for hungry beaks and bugs.

He had habit himself, and tended a yearly migration.
From his perch the earth was a jumble of spilt
toys, pipe-cleaner trees and plastic cars, a doll
to play house among them — all rendered a vague
smear, barely bright from overhead,
jousted out by a murder of stars.

On anniversaries, he sees fit to drop her a letter,
its wings clipped with vellum and sealing wax.
Bird
, she says, and patiently feeds the cats.

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Leslee Rene Wright has an MFA in Creative Writing from Bowling Green State University, and a PhD in Literature from the University of Nebraska.  A Colorado native, she now lives in Denver, where she teaches at Metropolitan State College of Denver and happily rotates between fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and academic writing projects.