Birds of Rhiannon

By KATHERINE ROBINSON

 

Bring me the birds of Rhiannon—
the ones that rouse the dead and make
the living sleep—to entertain me
that night.
The Mabinogi

 

Ram skulls I brought home from the fields

line the wall and survey the borage

that has spread wild up by the house,

its flowers blue and star-shaped,

stamens sharp and black as beaks.

The Greeks claimed the plant,

steeped in wine, would bring forgetfulness.

I uproot dockands and spreading grass

by the stone steps. When I lean too close,

the leaves, furred and fluted, chafe my neck.

Wind barrels off the bay, clattering bones

against the wall. What they guard now

is space, but they shield it stubbornly

as they held the living brain. The borage flattens

and rises. Flowers peck the dirt.

Her birds sang until the listener slept,

memory lulled into a blankness

from which the mind came

to fill the watchful skull.

 

 

Katherine Robinson has an MFA from The John Hopkins University, and she lives and teaches in Baltimore.

Listen to Katherine Robinson and Richie Hofmann discuss “Birds of Rhiannon” on our Contributors in Conversation podcast.

[Click here to purchase your copy of Issue 07]

Birds of Rhiannon

Related Posts

Headshot of Anne Pierson Wiese

Sharp Shadows

ANNE PIERSON WIESE
On our kitchen wall at a certain time / of year appeared what we called the sharp / shadows. / A slant of western light found / its way through the brown moult of fire / escape hanging on to our Brooklyn rental / building for dear life and etched replicas / of everything

Sunlight coming through a window. Photo from Pexels.

January 2024 Poetry Feature: Four Poems by Vinod Kumar Shukla

VINOD KUMAR SHUKLA
To get out of bed in the morning, / I don’t depend on anyone / except on my sleep. / If I’m fast asleep / and it’s time to get out of bed, / I find myself opening my eyes. / When I want to stay awake, sleep won’t come. / If I stay awake all night / sleep won’t come all night.

A bumblebee on a daffodil

January 2024 Poetry Feature: Part I

ADRIENNE SU
Every woman / is expected to become. / Always being touched, // always creating, / I cherished being wanted / and necessary, // was glad to possess / a body that could nourish / more than its own mind. // Yet I couldn’t sleep / though I ached for sleep; something.