the mendicant

a gray jay swoops
down
from the hemlocks,
alighting
on
outstretched hands
proffering
crumbs

it is a
featherweight
on the palm,
a surprising
lightness that seems
unreal:
this is no live
bird, but a skin—
insides taken out,
stuffed with
cotton and
camphor,
eyes replaced
by glass

cocking its black-capped
head
to the side,
the bird fixes
its beaded gaze
as if to say,
“all this? for me?
why, thank you.”

off it glides—
the spell is snapped—
and the crumbs
were the bond,
however brief

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