Sympathetic Magic

Exhaustion saw a falcon in the unraveling swaddle
her arms swayed. Hush. Hack. The microwave clock
pooled an aquamarine haze across linoleum
sticky from the dropper’s last dribbled dose.
I’m going to lay this boy back in his bassinet,
she thought, leave the front door open, and they’ll find

my slippers in the train yard—slippers and a tooth
blasted thirty yards away, nestled like a shard
of eggshell April breezes blew in crabgrass.
The apartment rattled like a serving tray
when freight cars rumbled by, eight minutes
past every hour. Instead she rubbed her thumb

on gums quivering between wails, which flared
more wails, made blanket folds akimbo feathers
silvering darkness. At last she stole a sand dollar
from the mantle, swiped its dust across her robe,
and spun its edge into wounding until sunlight
pierced through curtains gapped like parted lips.

Adam Tavel's third poetry collection, Catafalque, won the 2017 Richard Wilbur Award (University of Evansville Press, 2018). You can find him online at