Each morning, I tie a note
to you on a bird’s leg. The birds change
daily—pigeons, owls, swallows,
parrots the shades of the rain-
bow—dappling the sky. Scroll after scroll—
no answer. They’re not love notes, I swear.
They’re the minutiae of a simple life, the tasks
of someone living alone, who has carrier
pigeons instead of telephones.
passenger pigeons blackened the sky.
It became night when they rose,
the flocks of them a wave that
obliterated grain, speech, light. A plague.
People brought guns. No matter how many died,
they were endless. Hunt after hunt until Martha,
the last, died in Cincinnati without issue.
Perhaps someone kept DNA samples.
Perhaps someone will resurrect the
breed. Perhaps one day I too will
release a thousand passenger pigeons—
each with a note around its leg, each
directed to you, and you cannot, will not
ignore the missing sun, the beat of myriad wings.
Portrait of My Mother as a French Bulldog
I wake up and my
mother is a French
bulldog. She cocks
her head at me and shits
on the rug. If my mother
were still human, she’d shout,
Where is the potty? but she is
a dog and can only woof.
My mother, the French bulldog,
is as black as the hair she had
as a girl. My mother’s pink
tongue sticks out, drool drip-dropping
at her paws. She trots after
me through the house. Her
nails click-clack and I imagine
her saying, What? The floor is
ruined, but she is a dog. In
the kitchen, our pantry overflows
with kibble, bacon and hamburger
grow frost-fringe in the fridge. My mother’s
wedding plates are monogrammed
dog bowls. My mother howls, and I pour
processed chicken pellets into a bowl
and she howls and I fry bacon
and it spatters and she howls
and I scream, Mom, what do
you want? My mother licks
my foot and I imagine she
tastes dead skin, salt, hated
dirt. But she is a dog—I
scratch the unfamiliar fur
between her ears. She pants,
saliva wetting her mouth. My
mother rarely wore lipstick, never
left red kisses on my cheek. My
mother’s snout nudges my hand, leaves
moisture on my palm. I let it stay.
Snow White, on Finding a Pair of Iron Shoes While Spring Cleaning
My husband tells me I still
trust too easily—
See, everything that’s come to me
since then has been gentle—deer nibbling
at my fingers, birds landing on my
shoulder to trill sweetly
into my ear.
I can’t explain it to
him. Once, I asked my
stepmother for new shoes. I was nine—
a growing girl. My pinky toe
poked out the side of my
slippers. And she
while she peeled an apple,
crimson skin spiraling to
the parquet. A pair of shoes—
my feet blistering, oozing pus
and blood. Then can’t he understand
why I chose to trust the smile of an old
woman, how she offered me
gifts in her open hands?
Listen, I’ll toss the combs and
girdles in the Hefty bags, though their
poison’s been long leached away. I’ll
compost the apple cores he keeps forgetting
beneath his throne. I’ll sweep our castle of
everything—diamond dust, stocking caps
unraveling to yarn, the gristled remnants of
a boar’s heart. But these shoes—
I remember strapping them on
her feet, red-hot from the fire,
the way her dainty soles blistered,
her smooth flesh seared like
steak. Her screams—the orchestra
playing the quickest waltz faster,
faster, faster. My stepmother’s feet
livid with burns, her toes enflamed,
swollen as apples, her eyes turned towards
me—a plea. I closed.
I turned away.
Anna Cabe's work has appeared or is forthcoming in Bitch, Terraform, The Toast, Noble/Gas Qtrly, Cleaver, HEArt Journal, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and Fairy Tale Review, among others. She received her MFA in fiction from Indiana University and was formerly the nonfiction editor for Indiana Review. She is currently a 2018-2019 Fulbright Fellow in the Philippines. You can find Anna at annacabe.com.