Elizabeth R. Curry Contest Winners
A woman gazes out a wood-paned window
in December at a murder of crows who’ve
landed fatly on her empty Ash in the yard.
Black baubles on the holiday death tree
she notes and cups her mug of hot black tea.
Pythagoras had something to do with math.
He stands inside her forehead, also looks
at the crow-packed boughs, reminds her that she
only hates crows because others told her to.
He tries to seduce her into believing
those matted swathes of feathers house the souls
of her dead. Count them he says. Count each one.
Begin with the longest dead on the low
limbs and work your way up to last year’s
accident. See how they narrow inward.
The woman banishes him but secretly,
she counts in the pattern he’s instructed,
sees the triangle crookedly emerge.
There is one soul shelter at the top of
the tree that remains unaccounted for.
Vile little pig birds weighing down my tree.
She crushes a half-smoked cigarette out,
lifts her sleek shotgun from the pantry
and walks outside. She aims for the topmost
bird with its swiveling head glancing over
its back. With a crack, he is an explosion.
The murder clears the tree and fills the air.