Wednesday, I Had Fourteen Cousins by Holly Burdorff

Wednesday, I Had Fourteen Cousins

Friday, one less. I phone
my assigned branches of the family tree.

My fingertips fret bits of bright foil
from blocks of dark chocolate.

Today, walking the dog, I spot five feathers
stuck straight in the frozen ground.

Then a coo from a low limb. I look up
to a brutal greige fist of a body,

long ribbon of neck, small head
bobbing like a week-old balloon.

A blessing, my boyfriend’s mother would say.
And I’ve never held faith in heaven or,

really, anything higher than a mountain,
but I am certain a mourning dove has never

looked at me like that, cocking its head
and widening its eyes like oh hey, I know you,

and I can discern a message of peace
when it’s landed so squarely in my path.


Holly Burdorff’s work recently appears or is forthcoming in Cherry Tree, DIAGRAM, Peatsmoke, and Wax Nine. She earned an MFA in creative writing at The University of Alabama and currently lives near Cleveland, Ohio.