The Innocent

Jennifer Chang
Facebook icon Share via Facebook Twitter icon Share via Twitter

For weeks we watched for hatchlings to come 

of three smug eggs tucked into a nest, 

the nest tucked into the crook 

of a neighbor’s honeysuckle. Time nodded, 

was nodding—the shred of living, how offhand

the wind teeters toward erosion. Hard at work, 

on guard in two backyards, the robins mothered

and fathered their territory daily. And beyond, 

our block’s alley stretched aimless as fields,

where watching happens by accident, 

by nature. They’d squawk on a streetlamp, 

a cedar fence, our back stoop, warning off

the tabby, my two young sons, everyone 

stuck at home. I lost my mind with watching

and thought it grief or egotism, the bruise

of yesterday, not least the sky 

unraveling another season. It was easy 

to mistake the bared skeletal pinions 

as lawn clippings, old leaves. That circle 

in the grass, a massacre of feathers. That

terrible cat. It was easy to lose my mind. 

One neighbor said, let’s not tell the children, 

why know the world as always fated 

toward remnant. Another said, go, 

take the nest, set it under glass, and make it a lesson. 

Instead, I watched our habits pass, the honeysuckle 

fade from sickly sweet to nothing but heat.

Call it science. It’s summer again, and then

everything’s remnant. What did we do those days,

stuck at home, my sons might some day ask. We lived 

or tolerated living. We looked away from death.

More Reads

One Thing

Rae Armantrout

Casting Call

Keith Leonard

The Country of Lone Wolves

Fernando Valverde