Postcard from Home + Fledging

Mike Barrett

Postcard from Home

In sepia a tractor

resting in sagebrush and snow,

rusting, resigned to wind.

A foreshortened farmhouse,

windows bereft of glass.

Last, a mountain range.

Among a hundred others

in a Billings second-hand store

a day before my flight.

A place, passing, someone paused

to take a photograph

of what remained of someone else.

Those exquisite peaks, horizons

never reached, abandoned without apology.  

All the ways the West has

of giving up, of getting on.

As if a tourist, I pictured myself

working some other field,

seasons going somewhere else.

I took it with me when I left.


Sometimes while they slept

we lay awake,

listening to owls

in a cottage where a river,

hesitating at a bend, grew

deeper than their city pool.

Perched on bones of trees,


they would call for names,

sing lullabies

of wings:

spread, plunge, strike.

Mornings we cooed them

from their dreams and covers

and set them on breakfast.

Then we sat at the bank

to watch them flailing

goggle-eyed and water-winged.

Trust what you cannot see.

Depend on night to raise day.

We comforted them

with no proof, save bundles

of devourings 

on the lawn and once

a squirrel skull

by the porch 

half fur, half flayed,

one socket empty,

one swimming in gaze.

Mike Barrett grew up in Montana; studied literature, philosophy, and law at Harvard; and currently lives in Seattle where he works on pro bono projects and poetry.  His poems have appeared in Atlanta Review, Poetry Quarterly, Passager (Honorable Mention, 2020 Poetry Contest), Avalon Literary Review, Lowestoft Chronicle, and Gray’s Sporting Journal.

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