“Every Winged Thing” by Sarah Johnson

Every Winged Thing

by Sarah Johnson

Monarchs, Swallowtails
especially.  I always left half exposed,
their silky remains like chipped
porcelain.  Chitinous membranes
bled yellow, blue, orange, black
onto my fingers.  I carried
their scales in my prints,
made homes for them
with plastic turquoise baskets.  
They had tiny beds, cotton balls
for pillows; my Monarchs lasted
longest.  On spindly legs
they wobbled from the basket
until I ushered them back;
they tried to fly, even
in the moments before they died
during the night.  My father
found the pile of crooked
bodies beneath my bed
and hit me.  I had ended many
lives, he said, and then he broke
my net over his knee.

When she isn’t running a marathon or writing poetry, Sarah Johnson is finishing up her MFA degree at American University in Washington, DC.  Her work has appeared in Bird’s Thumb, Twisted Vine Literary Arts Journal, and District Lit.