Jared Beloff

Plate 321
Roseate Spoonbill, Audubon

The Bird Collector

Last summer’s pulse nudged the tide, noticeable as salt graining the seawall. But the mangroves are pulling back, their roots like frayed brooms holding on to detritus. Spoonbills, gangly and roseate, have already left Biscayne Bay for higher ground. Somehow this hasn’t been registered as a fact we can grieve. It is my job to collect the dead that circle Miami’s mirrored light: Black-throated Warblers lit by a night’s shine, Northern Parulas searching out a distant home. Each bird crashes dreaming of a windowed horizon, not realizing the sea and its dotted green is already behind them. Everyone here is looking for more space and time. A group of warblers is called a confusion, spoonbills are called a bowl. I lay them out in lines like ruffled silver, a tide of feathers, a confusion of bodies, their mouths clattered open in search of food, a name lilting their small tongues. They stare out as if wondering which species is called a drawerful.

Jared Beloff is a teacher and poet who lives in Queens, New York with his wife and two daughters. You can find his work in Contrary Magazine, Barren Magazine, The Shore and elsewhere. You can find him at jaredbeloff.com or on twitter @read_instead

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Spring 2022