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.