AVIMANCY by Tina Kelley

n. – use of birds to predict the future

Seeing a blue jay means my dead mother is sending me luck,
and any time a bird cries in legends, someone’s about to die.
Someone is always about to die. I will count the caws.

Five golden-winged warblers left the Cumberland mountains
for the Florida panhandle—they heard the lowest notes
of tornadic storms a day away. I should’ve followed.

When the guidobo sings at night, white people
will deforest soon. White people are always deforesting.
The tojo’s night song announces there will be orphans.

Higher flyers bring better news, but I prefer my omens low.
Thus if steam rises off to the right from the scrambled eggs
my son made me, if it sways and hulas like river grass,

I will experience eight seconds of homebound joy.
If I hear the almost-thrushes, six sighing swings
in the playground at dusk, I will never ask what to do

with the unused middle school lunch account of a suicide.
I’ll read instead the clockwise swirls of the bloody mosquito
smeared on my arm, done tormenting me, filled with, emptied

of me, saying, telling me, “rest.” I will drive very slowly
behind the wavering lady biking down the double yellow line,
toot and urge her to the curb, as she sirens societal collapse.

I must postpone her fall. If the birds keep vanishing, one now
where three once flew, will we prophesy from blow flies? Or,
like shamans, foretell death when vomit sinks in the river?

Photo by Andy Morffew, used and adapted under CC.