Bird Woman of Wonder Valley

Poem by Cynthia Anderson


Her morning ritual begins with breath —
the steady rise and fall of her chest,

then a flutter of eyes as the eastern
sky reddens. Naked, she descends

from her rooftop bed to the wild
ground of her oasis — a stand

of palm, tamarisk, and mesquite
she anoints with water too brackish

for drinking. She opens a bin and
scoops seeds, scatters them wide

for sparrows who nest in her trees,
who sing all day unless a hawk

scares them to silence. Years ago
she stopped trying to be the right bird,

took refuge among the creosote,
liked being alone so much

she removed the passenger seat
from her truck. Her favorite time

of day is dusk, when quail shoot
up to the treetops, disturbing doves

already settled behind dry, rustling
fronds. In starlight, she dreams

of gold talons, hears wingbeats
that mimic her heart.


The 2017 Luminaire Award for Best Poetry
FINALIST

We are pleased to announce this poem as a finalist for the 2017 Luminaire Award for Best Poetry, honoring the independent press’ best poems and hybrid works of the year. The winners are selected by an external panel that judges all pieces blind and chooses the full list of 12 finalists from hundreds of entries. Alternating Current does not determine the final outcome for the judging; the external judges’ decisions are final.


CYNTHIA ANDERSON lives in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree National Park. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Askew, Dark Matter, Apercus Quarterly, Whale Road, Knot Magazine, and Origami Poems Project. She is the author of seven collections: Waking Life, In the Mojave, Desert Dweller, Mythic Rockscapes / Barker Dam, Mythic Rockscapes / Hidden Valley, and Shared Visions I and II. She frequently collaborates with her husband, photographer Bill Dahl. Cynthia co-edited the anthology A Bird Black as the Sun: California Poets on Crows & Ravens. Find her at her website.

The Coil

Literature to change your lightbulb.

Alternating Current Press

Written by

Indie press dedicated to lit that challenges readers & has a sense of self, timelessness, & atmosphere. Publisher of @CoilMag #CoilMag (http://thecoilmag.com)

The Coil

The Coil

Literature to change your lightbulb.

Alternating Current Press

Written by

Indie press dedicated to lit that challenges readers & has a sense of self, timelessness, & atmosphere. Publisher of @CoilMag #CoilMag (http://thecoilmag.com)

The Coil

The Coil

Literature to change your lightbulb.

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