There's Always One On The Driveway, Featherless,

transparent stomach fat as a coin purse. Beak too big for its face, like a baby
wearing huge sunglasses. Tuft of white fuzz, oh darling old man. Always

one on the driveway, bankrupt, almost there but not there enough. I've seen
mama cowbird, angular in her cold-eyed flight. I like her version of love. No
heart involvement. One dies, little sack of guts on the driveway. A few live
to open their gold mouths and yearn. Long eyes glued shut. I used to wake

glue-eyed when we lived in that shack in Three Oaks. My mother would
have to wash my eyelids open with warm boric acid. What a house. The mice
leaped over the Tinker Toys with glee. I'd get up early and run across
the street to the Warburton's house. I was young enough to still be wearing

rubber pants, my nipples the size of buffalo head nickels. The delicious part
was the graham crackers and the pet bird perched on the tray of the high chair
pecking at Cheerios. We lived so close to the elementary school that my sister
could see our mother hanging clothes on the line from the playground. She'd

stand at the chain link fence wailing a stream of screaming blackbirds
out of the hole in her face that was bigger than she was. A homesick girl,
and already wasps were invading her underpants on the clothesline.
You've read Dante's Inferno. Meanwhile, I got goose bumps from watching

Mrs. Warburton wander around the house singing the Miss America theme
song in a half slip and bra, her orange hair combed with a Mixmaster. Don't
worry; I would enter hell soon enough, sizzling on the pavement that passed
for a playground. One slide, the stairs missing. My first science project

was on the Baltimore Oriole. I got third place because they said an adult
must have helped me bring down the nest from the tree. True. Also,
my father made the poster stand. This was just after they found his first
tumor. Who can blame him for being overly invested in his little girl's

triumph? My final science project was on the anatomy of the heart. I was
twelve, a beautiful age, proud to wear my shirttail out and call myself a slob.
My mother picked up the warm calf heart from the slaughterhouse. Set it
into my cupped hands even before she took off that ratty green jacket.

This was her way, whether she loved me or not. I fell for the word ventricle,
thankful for doom. Index finger traced the blood path, fairy tale alley
strewn with bread crumbs erased by birds.