★ ★ ★ ★



A friend says she can’t
embrace, can’t speak
another word about
this small finality.
At her cabin, mostly empty
for the winter, bluebirds
flew down the stovepipe
and couldn’t get back out.
Twice. The first time

she rescued them, but
this time she was too late.
I think of a man who planned
to come back from the dead
as an owl and wonder

if those poor birds, caught
in her cold wood stove,
had a previous life, or if
they’re headed to another
life now. Well, sure they are—
at least in the form of carbon
and dust. I’m no mystic,
but someone once said
that the lives we don’t choose
still leave their marks upon us.

Once I wanted to be a pilot,
and I learned to fly a small plane
over the rolling hills of home.
But every time you take off,
you must also land. I’ve never
been good at landings. So then

I wanted to be a musician,
and I learned to sing and play
a small guitar. But music depends
on breath, and I haven’t always
been good at breathing. Still,

I will go to my grave wanting
to fly and sing like a bird.
Is it such a weakness
to come to a cold end
trapped in hope?

Praise those birds
as you found them,
I tell my friend—
against dull ash,
a bright, persistent blue.


May you find a bright clearing.
On the far side of the clearing

may you find a path.
Down the path’s icy slope

may you walk sure-footed
to the water, and before nightfall

may you come to thick-walled
shelter, a cocoon soft and warm.

In this place, may you be
reminded: how filling the silence,

how brilliant the stars. In the dark
may you see all you need:

berries that glimmer like glass,
a fallen birch gleaming like old bones.

Kory Wells lives near Nashville, Tennessee, and mentors poetry students in the low-residency program MTSU Write. She is author of HEAVEN WAS THE MOON, a chapbook from March Street Press. When she’s not writing, Kory advocates for the arts, democracy, afternoon naps, and other good causes. Read, listen or connect with her at korywells.com.