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Outside, a mockingbird wakes late, moonblind,
calling cardinal, blue jay, hawk—

strangers sounding rounder
& more lonely in his eager mouth. His separation

keeps him loud & wild, like the crickets—
the wood’s pulse & swell

of want. I sit inside with my reading lamp as night bugs throb
against the windows: crane flies & katydids,

fat hornets testing the pane’s edges, thinking already of autumn
& its cold, or at least I am: the stilling season,

how I’ll pull them still & rain-
bodied from puddles, scoop bright moths

from the concrete below streetlamps, unravel beetles
already bitten from webs. If I can’t save anything, at least

the steam loosens rigor, at least the pin
keeps them until they set & so, whole,

the body itself a shadow clasped by shell
or skin, the lung & churning heart that can’t, shouldn’t ever

see light. Praise the mothball
that staves decay, praise the moth—mouthless,

beyond saving. Battering my window, it is already
half a ghost. Praise the mockingbird,

unashamed that he is alone, praise the beetle,
the hornet, all night’s shy & vicious ornaments

who ignore my wayward love, who want,
even in my darkness, to be around me.




Courtney Flerlage received her MFA in poetry from the University of Virginia. Her work has appeared in Narrative,The Adroit JournalNinth LetterPoetry NorthwestCrab Orchard ReviewDay OneArkansas Review, and elsewhere.



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