“Dissection of a Western Kingbird,” by Lily Baumgart
December 2, 2019
Extinguish larynx, strung down neck & plucked
from voice box, pulling out a sharp snap;
I holler to the kingbird out of loneliness.
Feathered body & beak yellowed with age,
sleek wings broken in by many winters,
his dead eyes, refusing to acknowledge.
Measurements of clawed feet, the push of the scalpel
into his full breast, the initial resistance—deflated,
I leave to cry in the bathroom, ashamed.
He is ashamed, too; embarrassed by his death,
the way it brandishes our innocence &
when I return, he is untouched & alone.
Lily Baumgart is Seattle’s 2017/18 Youth Poet Laureate. Performed at Seattle Arts & Lectures’ Poetry Series event with Mary Ruefle at Broadway Performance Hall on November 21, 2019.