SWWIM publishes, celebrates, & promotes women, women-identifying & Femme-presenting writers through a Miami-based reading series & the online poetry journal SWWIM Every Day.

Miraculous Bird by Shannon Sankey


A beautiful phrase I am sure I have never heard. And yet,

he shows it to me: Yes, I wrote it here in brown ink on canvas.


And here, a quick brushstroke to suggest a hilltop,

and here, several quadrangles to form the city where we met,

and here, and there, fat drips and bright trails of violet paint

where the paper softened and buckled and dried.


And here a bird           A red bird       in a winterblack tree                A red bird

          his long tail extending indefinitely out of this fixed plane

this plane a red bird    this plane a winterblack tree               Here    a red bird—


Miraculous Bird, he says again, as if it were his name, as if

I might have forgotten him, too, a year after the concussion.


I take the tender gift into my lap as I do

the pictures of my mother in her twenties.


The small hands of my eyes open and close at the shapes:

more familial than familiar, like me and not of me—


a beforeness, a red bird singing

at a frequency far out of range.



Shannon Sankey's poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming at the Academy of American Poets, Visible Poetry Project, Rogue Agent, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, The Weeklings, Atticus Review, Pretty Owl Poetry, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a 2017 Academy of American Poets University & College Prize. She holds an MFA from Chatham University, where she was the Whitford Fellow. She is the founder of Stranded Oak Press. See www.shannonsankey.com.


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