Jeremy Michael Reed


     for Katherine, my great-grandmother

Red-capped, short-beaked, stout-bodied, full
whistle come out of open mouth, complete:
my great-grandmother’s favorite bird acts
like she did, walks where it wants, eats
as it pleases, keeps quiet at times, or sings,
stays low to ground, doesn’t raise head,
protects nests, flies full-forced into reflection
in glass, says, “Stop asking about that.
Don’t you know where you’re not wanted?”
sits through rain, watches through window,
maybe at me, maybe at herself. I look
at both of us at once through glass. She
never owned up to anything, died asleep,
quiet, keeping silent whatever secret.
I know where she lived in Knoxville
just about, about two siblings, a father,
a mother who died with her still a toddler, another
who treated her as if she belonged
in that second, built-on set of rooms.
She traversed a country, three marriages,
nearly a century, and yet. Cardinalis
eats anything, forages for seed,
pecks at grass, knows way back to nest.
I’m back. Tell me what you hid from me.

Jeremy Michael Reed

is a Ph.D. candidate in creative writing at the University of Tennessee. His poems have been published in Still: The Journal, Stirring: A Literary Collection, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and elsewhere, including the anthology Bright Bones: Contemporary Montana Writing. He lives in Knoxville, where he is the editor-in-chief of Grist: A Journal of the Literary Arts, associate editor of Sundress Publications, co-director of The Only Tenn-I-See Reading Series, and assistant to Joy Harjo.