In Woolworth’s, a line of blue parakeets

and yellow finches sways on a bar singing

wildly, the torrent of caged song falling


like rain, a wave spreading out. A world

of wide spaces awaits me—but not these

birds: too tropical for this climate,


destined for other cages. In the plant

section, I admire a tradescantia wrapped

in a haze of purple light, a creamy white


gardenia scenting the aisles, plush leaves

an intense green. Among a crowd of

Saturday shoppers, I pay at the register


for a tape measure that extends to full

length before its metal ribbon snaps back.

At home, I measure the rooms of my house,


the spaces in between, imagining birds

uncaged, winging into the tilting sky.



Claudia Buckholts has received Creative Writing Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Massachusetts Artists Foundation, and she has won the Grolier Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in Indiana Review, Minnesota Review, New American Writing, Prairie Schooner, Southern ReviewTar River Poetry, and others. Buckholts also has published two books, Bitterwater and Traveling Through the Body.

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