not as in whiteness, but heat—unyielding
and apocalyptic—a miracle: once, at the feed
store, i held a week-old chick against my
chest. it trembled like a brown paper bag full
of bees. i thought: what if it breaks open?
at the checkout counter, a man was buying
three bags of cattle feed. he talked to his
wife on the phone in spanish—asked her,
should i buy another? should i buy a fifth?
and the chick pressed its head into my thumb,
cocooned in quiet. i was its mother, for a moment,
until i put it under the buzzing heat lamp and
knelt on the concrete floor—watching it stumble,
reshape its musculature to sleep in sawdust
while the man at the counter settled on four,
shrugged, said to the cashier: it’s a miracle
we haven’t had a late freeze yet. the cashier
palmed her jeans pocket for her last cigarette
in reply. slowly, i’m learning that the biggest
miracle is being alive despite everything.
despite power outages and catcalls and random
dead animals in gas station parking lots and
exacto knives and black lung disease and ____.
when the man left, he carried each bag out
one by one on his shoulder like sadness and all
the other stuff you take everywhere, no charge.
the cashier turned to me then, asked: how
are you doing, honey? i did not tell her
i wanted to cut open my chest, fill it up
with week-old chickens, turn clucking into
a heartbeat. i looked at her instead, still
searching for the stray cigarette with her spare
hand. she glowed in the light like birdsong.