Architecture for Birds by Katrin Tschirgi
Says associate poetry editor Amy Elisabeth Hansen: I hear people say things like "This poem speaks to me," and I think I know what that means, but Katrin Tschirgi's "Architecture for Birds" talks to me, which is different and better. What I mean is that the syntax of this poem feels like how I talk or hear language, but with better words, which is what makes it so beautiful to me. I hear and feel this most in "When I say my heart is sick, I mean the osprey" and "I can see it in my hand: a cork..." The poem is patterned and careful, and built mostly on sounds, which I love. But inside its precision, "Architecture for Birds" maintains a quirkiness that makes landing on one favorite phrase or sentence or word a challenge. Just as I settle on one, the poem takes flight again.
Architecture for Birds
Mockingbird brain. The long finger bones of oak evolve to fit the bird claw’s golden ring. When I say my heart is sick, I mean the osprey. Bulbous quail—my feather, an atrium among all seed and millet. And my heart is blue, soft as sorghum, but cold. Finch liver, junco lung. All my downy lint. And when my organs choose to molt or hatch, there is no country doctor to say look south, or, keep cupped in the palm bowl of hands. Intestine mistaken as worm. I awake full of birds. I meter the room in wingspans, press the T of my body against the drywall and try to feel the coming quake. The rattle of the afternoon train is caught in the house’s hollow bones. Rattle, the sound—either found with sharp teeth and bad fluid, or, with something you would cradle softly. All that appears above this house are the bright, old-fashioned corners of the moon. I can see it in my hand: a cork: bone marrow, hard insulation, civil like a soft bullet shooting across the room like a magic trick. We are open cut mines, and our yellow canaries drowse.
Katrin Tschirgi is an MFA candidate at Bowling Green State University where she serves as managing editor of Mid-American Review. Her poetry and prose have appeared in alice blue review, Post Road, and the Tin House Open Bar. She is originally from Boise, Idaho.