Death Salon. Poems by Robert Julius,
selected by Ron Mohring as Number Three
in this year’s Summer Kitchen Chapbook Series.
Release date: August 31, 2020 [49 copies]
Cover image: 19th c. antique indigo quilting cotton.
Robert Julius is a queer writer from Pittsburgh, PA. His work appears in Brevity, cream city review, The Florida Review, The Indiana Review, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. In his spare time, he cares for dozens of plants and is learning to craft herbal medicines. You can follow him on Twitter @schumaker93.
My friend’s dead sister comes to him
in red cardinals. My late mother kept
a feeder in the front yard as long
as I can remember. On days
when chronic sickness
kept her bedbound, I imagine
she wished for her hands
to turn to sparrows–
for her sore bones to up and feather,
to take to the sky like a flock
of starlings. My mother
fed wild birds dutifully, fed millet
and thistle, dried fruits,
a special mix to attract
the occasional goldfinch.
On the first day in April,
the birds gone wild with the world,
my husband and I hike
along a lake trail in Ohio.
I take time to teach him
how to spot and name the birds
my mother cared for: the leather-bellied
robins, the red cardinals
keeping secrets, the goldfinch,
rare to spot. The birdwatch
is interrupted by rain, the kind
that paints the lake like a mandala
with such flashed impermanence.
Soaked with rain, we watch
the sun break through rainclouds,
a headlight manned by an unseen
giant illuminating a bright yellow
in the switchgrass. When Daniel
asks its name, I want to say goldfinch—
but the word that forms
is longing. When it spots us,
this longing takes off–
like it always tends to do
when I try to see it plain,
unblurred and steady. Its departure
gives rise to the beating of wings
receding behind a chorus
of thunder and birdsong.
–Thank you to Crosswinds for first publishing this poem.
- Limited edition: only 24 copies available. Order yours here!