By Teresa Morse

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A fledgling fell from the steep
elm branches last night, never learning
to fly. We crept over dew, thinking it asleep,
and learned the truth.

Hallmark strangeness
of childhood, finding things can die.
Like learning our parents had names,
it tumbled us out of ourselves
into an expanding world
where the metallic twist of pennies
on tongues echoed
in blood.

Life released slowly to us, unfolding
its creases—a map of courtesies
letting us stay small and close.
But it rushed
when we lifted feathers
limp and cold, light,
and folded death in a box
atop a broken nest.

If life came all at once,
we could never learn to breathe,
to speak. Never learn bird and flight and tree,
fall or death or broken,
never blink
or become ourselves.

Teresa Morse