My father died in my sleep. I built the cage; he planted the idea like a mangrove seed.
My father died when I was in the Manticore’s castle splashed by the green-gray
sea. The sound of incense furring my breast. The Manticore never touched me with
anything but his hat and blunt human teeth. He was the mate of my educated
choosing. Shunt is the rape of the oil in the seed.
My father was 19 when he ate me. I wasn’t born yet, but the idea had to make.
Cardinalis cardinalis. I have mirrored that intelligence in the tangent of my singing.
Other birds punctuate (our) song.
My father became a red bird after dying: singer-soldier-doctor-door. A better debtor
without his body.
To tease the beast out of me
and leave the body blue like the crowns
of babies. Storyteller, sing firmly.
Anna Maria Hong is the author of the novella H & G (Sidebrow Books), winner of the A Room of Her Own Foundation’s Clarissa Dalloway Prize, and Age of Glass, winner of Cleveland State University Poetry Center’s First Book Poetry Competition and the Poetry Society of America’s 2019 Norma Farber First Book Award. Her second poetry collection, Fablesque, won Tupelo Press’s Berkshire Prize and is forthcoming in June 2020. A former Bunting Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, she has published work in The Nation, The Iowa Review, Ecotone, amberflora, jubilat, Fence, New Delta Review, Jet Fuel Review, Jacket2, American Book Review, Poetry Daily, The Best American Poetry, and many other publications.