Jennifer Whitaker

The Swallow

As you planted the hydrangeas violet and fire-red, I found it—cat-ravaged and dim—

        and it rocked in my open palms as I hurried across the yard

When I asked you to save it, you did, in a way—

the swift crack of its neck in your hand—

        snap of kindling-burn, chair’s back splintering, a switch on the skin—

and you buried it there

        the mouth froze-open

        the velvet-tunneled throat

        the thumbprint of blood
                                        on those leaves shuddering