It is the history of the forest, she says

This strangely entrancing prose poem by Arlene Kim gave me pause this afternoon as I was reading her book, What have you done to our ears to make us hear echoes, which is worth a read in its entirety.


“The Collecting”

Sister keeps collecting dead things. Bees and rag-winged dragonflies.
A frozen mouse, teeth bared like a prize. A crow, butterflied open. She
pleats them up in her apron and keeps walking. Why do they find
her at the last, the dead sparrows, the muskrats, the prairie dogs, the
red squirrels, the spent tatty-sail moths. Then, yesterday, a spatuletail?
It’s a long way from here to Peru, she thinks, carrying him home to
snap small portraits, make a cast of wing, snug chin feathers into an
embroidery circle, bury him primly in a box of gingerbread, his strange
tail tucked so. It is the history of the forest, she says, of ways we get lost;
I would like to say how it all happened; I would like to put it right.


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