A Haunting, Springhttps://i2.wp.com/barrenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/FFED82A1-C8E7-4B3D-9E81-63D9BE03E160-e1549341174870.jpeg?fit=1920%2C1440&ssl=119201440Marley StuartMarley Stuarthttps://i0.wp.com/barrenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Marley-Stuart-Headshot-e1539006915502.jpg?fit=96%2C96&ssl=1
My wife tells me, pulling weeds
between squash and okra, the cardinal
that sings outside out our window
is Cody, returned on the anniversary
of his death in the form of a bird.
He’s singing now, on the wire
right over my head.
I’m not convinced. He is dead
after all. And anyway, we’re late.
It was one year last week. Still,
every morning, there it is, distinct
from the rest, a pattern memorized
in sleep. It follows me in to the den
where I lie on the floor to stretch.
Through the curtain, the cardinal
stands red on his wire, a cutout bird
against blue sky. Cody had a way
of always being around, calling
every day and now and then
showing up unannounced
while things blew over at home.
A puzzle of reasons
I never questioned.
He’d stay, we’d drink
too much and play gin,
and in the morning
he was gone before I woke,
his breathing machine
and duffel bag packed up
in his truck and away.
In the garden, squash
bristle with a change
in the weather. Rain
hisses up the gutters.
My wife calls from the kitchen.
I stretch, but my back won’t unlock.
Outside, the cardinal clings to his wire
and even sways in the wind.
Marley Stuart is an Assistant Editor of Louisiana Literature and a graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars. His stories and poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in The Chattahoochee Review, Permafrost, Painted Bride Quarterly, Xavier Review, The Healing Muse, L’Éphémère Review, The Rising Phoenix Review, Occulum and About Place. He and his wife, the writer Kimberly Dawn Stuart, live in New Orleans and direct the small press River Glass Books.