George Cassidy Payne is an independent writer, domestic violence counselor, and adjunct instructor in the humanities at Finger Lakes Community College.
George's blogs, essays, letters, poems, and photographs have been published in a wide variety of national and international outlets such as USA Today, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, The Buffalo News, Albany Times-Union, Syracuse Post Standard, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, The Toronto Star, The Minority Reporter, Chronogram Journal, Ovi Magazine, CounterPunch, Moria Poetry Journal, Ampersand Literary Review, Adirondack Daily Enterprise, and more.
George's first book of poetry, A Time Before Teachers, is available at Amazon.com.
Dumping the bones on a gentle slope planted in tinted violet, pale pink to rose, candy corn yellow leaves, as parents stand by armed with rakes and shovels, observing with their crotchety independence how good it must be to be a child again. To be free again, to see a December sunset cast its ochre-brown, saddle-shaped, conspicuously veined light, eyelash like thin, over the gelatinous flesh of a family’s front yard. Siblings sunken in soil, that rich manured soil, soon to become melting snow banks, scattered on rich, brain-shaped humus.
My three-year-old son wondered where deer sleep, so I walked him there. Stepping into a realm that is not reserved for fathers and sons, we found a ritual that has nothing to do with us. That lost part of the brain where the Moon barely creeps in.
A flask-shaped bald head olive-black eyes. Short chestnut brown eyebrows. Oshkosh B’gosh overalls and an ultraviolet purple sleeved shirt. Like small dolls patched with the materials of a day’s harvest sinking into the earth into a wormhole of foliage, laughing at nothing but the act of knowing that sometimes it’s common and good to laugh at nothing. We played unconcealed. Outside. Submerged in winding branches and brittle, lifeless leaves laying on a basket filled with the fluorescence of eggs.
Hatched 30 minutes earlier than the day before, I am placed between a hot-water pad and a towel to dry. Pecking an air hole in my shell and beginning the ordeal, as the warm air feels like Tegaderm on my beak.
Eight hours after hatching, I eat my first meal-bits of lean quail raised on my uncle’s farm. Feeding from a puppet as to avoid being mistaken by humans; in a week or so I will see what it means to be wild again.
Such a supple anomaly, to lay inside a sleeping bag. The carcasses from roads could not have it better. Attuned to abeyance, rolled up like a napkin in a French bistro, and zoned out to the blithe, unconditioned air measuring the exhalations of a fly caving with the rain that only falls during childbirth. In a word, assuaged.
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