Children in the schoolyard throw rocks at the scarlet letter sewn upon my chest. Brick by brick a thousand sins build a wall. Blackbirds swoop and dive, pulling ribbons and strands of golden hair to line their nests. There is no escape.

*

The therapist tells me to call her Mary as though it somehow makes us friends, comrades, partners-in-crime. She places a protective hand over the growing mound that is her child, while she tries to convince me to give up my own. Snowflakes fall like molting feathers.

*

From the belly of the old cypress, a blackbird calls out to his flock, warning them about the dangers that lie ahead. He mimics the cat’s meow, the scrape of bone against bone, the cries that can’t be soothed.

*

Lying in bed I watch your knees knead my womb like soft dough. The vibrato of your tiny heart beats in tandem with mine. You are the pupa and I, the chrysalis waiting for you to break free.

*

The moonlight shines upon the blackbird perched on the concrete sill. I reach out to touch a glossy wing, but the rapier pecks and tears deep into my skin, ripping layer after layer until I am transformed into a Madonna dressed in a flowing blue gown, my head crowned with stars and daisies.

*

Squeals erupt from this little girl in pigtails who is flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood. I press my hand into the warm hollow nestled between her shoulder blades. Her legs pump hard against gravity as I launch her into the stratosphere. She smiles down at me standing amongst the thinning mulch where feet have dragged their path. Look Mama, I can fly! I can fly!

***

Kristin Tenor enjoys writing short fiction and poetry. Her work has appeared in The Midwest Review, Spry Literary Journal, and The Peninsula Pulse. She lives in Northeastern Wisconsin with her husband. Learn more @ www.kristintenor.com or find her on Twitter @KristinTenor.

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