By Jessica Mehta

I have one of you sitting
in my throat like a pigeon.
Dirty birds—

we hate them because they’re like us.
When you ask,
Tell me something, the droppings
are so sticky, dusty white I can’t
choke them out. My voice
has always been stifled,
after all

it’s far too crowded down there
for us all to sing at once. But know,
scrape by struggle, I’ll tell
you everything with my fingertips.

You’ll find my words scrawled
on paper scraps, your something’s
inked in permanence. They’re loud,
gaudy and nakedly unashamed
in a way my voice could never bear.
So let the bird be, the filthy thing

is cleaner than all of us,
and especially me. What diseases
I’ve waded through, infections I’ve borne
and disgusts I’ve clutched dear
to whoosh across the wild to you.

Jessica Mehta

Jessica (Tyner) Mehta is a Cherokee poet, novelist, and storyteller. She’s the author of eight books, which includes six collections of poetry: the forthcoming Constellations of My Body, the forthcoming Savagery, as well as Secret-Telling Bones, Orygun, What Makes an Always, and The Last Exotic Petting Zoo. She’s been awarded the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund Prize in Poetry, the Potlatch Award for Native Artists, and numerous poet-in-residencies posts around the world including Hosking Houses Trust with an appointment at The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, and Paris Lit Up in France. Visit Jessica’s author site at

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