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Christie Valentin-Bati

i traveled to someplace i'd never been to find myself where i always was

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Today the sky was grey. I wanted to swim in the ocean feel the waves lapping my shoulders holding my thighs. I wanted to float. Close my eyes in one place and find myself in another. It’s winter now. The lakes are frozen. Below my floor of the house lives my 80-year-old landlord who is passing her time with birds. She owns two or four cockatiels. Every morning they chirp sing whatever we may call it. If it rains they sing. It storms they sing. The sun oils the wall recedes. The clouds ashen. They sing. How much can a pet bird understand day and night as opposed to a light switch turning off or a drape that covers their cage? What do caged birds know of blood hunting ripping apart skin or are we each more prey than predator now living in our little painted boxes do my landlord’s birds know their wings are clipped do they dream of the sky ocean being free like me though maybe there is too much of my own humanness leaking here everywhere one animal wants to connect with another. From my bedroom window I dream of salt this body I’ve always known turned weightless in shifting waters.


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on the roof, the stairs, porch,
the back patio, the wrought-iron table,
wrought-iron chairs, iron fences with arrows,
over trashcans, on top the lids, inside the bin,
over the trash, covered the sidewalks, the cracks
in cement, filled in all the potholes, blocked the light
from coming through the windowsill, moved inside
the bullet-cracked window of the abandoned truck
sitting in the alleyway, stung my eyes, like speckles
over the faux fur brimming my hood, against my jeans,
clinging to the straggles of fabric hanging from my cuffs,
tangled my hair (I shaved it), over my eyelashes, between
the crevices of my boots, over the stoop, over the wood steps
three flights up, beside the door entrance, on the handle,
until it even slipped between the door hinges and entered
inside the house

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