Why Birds - Jennifer Givhan

Lovebirds roost on the broken-down swings

behind our avocado tree. Yellow crumbs

dust our sheets as gently as his palm on my leg


when he asks Why birds? Why envy them

like gods?

I’m tired of watching birds, unthinking


of us as we read Einstein

& bring our wings to this weight—


across the street,

we overhear a woman & her boyfriend


from their car: she, hollering through

the open window, Did you just tell me, ‘Fuck you!’?

He, exasperated, No! I said,


'I love you!’ Oh my God, you stupid bitch.

Something’s dragged us all—our salvage


expanding toward no such thing

as the impending divorce, our common fondness

for licking lemon meringue in bed


ceasing as the secret we’ve shared

these formless years, something of

the child I keep dropping from my body.


Close your eyes

& imagine nothing we tell each other, or

imagine romance: downtown Santa Ana &


a caution-taped dumpster brimming pink Franzia-

boxes outside our apartment complex.

Love is a body


falling without feeling—weight.


Beyond us a kaleidoscope of lights hums a song that never

ends, a small clutch trilling in the sky:


Love is a spirit we’d drink all night,

if we could.





Jennifer Givhan is a current NEA fellow and author of Landscape with Headless Mama, winner of The Pleiades Editors’ Prize (forthcoming 2016), and The Daughter’s Curse (ELJ Publications forthcoming 2017). She’s won a PEN/Rosenthal Emerging Voices Fellowship, The Frost Place Latin@ Scholarship, The Pinch Poetry Prize, the DASH Poetry Prize, and has appeared in Best New PoetsAGNI, and Southern Humanities Review. She teaches at The Rooster Moans Poetry Coop and is assistant poetry editor at Tinderbox Poetry Journal. You can visit her at jennifergivhan.com.