Art Courtesy of The New York Public Library

Poetry by Alison Hicks
Published Issue 123, March 2024


Floating up against the bars
that keep sea creatures from the circulator,
a Kemp’s ridley, from what we could tell at the distance,
flippers in position as if navigating the Bay.

An autopsy would be required
to hypothesize the cause, laying the body out,
cutting through the bridge connecting the carapace
to the plastron, lifting it from pectoral and pelvic girdles
to assess the lungs, three-chambered heart in its pericardium,
digestive and reproductive organs,
the cloaca, which kisses another’s to mate.

Maintenance was not authorized
to remove the grate. We did not succeed
in scooping with a stretcher on a rope.
The species rare, endangered, it would have to be reported,
the state decide what needed to be done.

What is an animal?
What is death?
Who is a turtle?
Who are we?

If we were capable, what would we say?
How would we introduce?
Would we understand?
The being swimming away from us on a parallel sea.

Painted by Torsten Wasastjerna (1895-1896)


Part of us streams with the overflow,
over the top, into the whirlpool’s churn,
& away downstream. Part sinks,
Collecting with tannins & sediment upstream.

Whoosh & shush of pines,
plank bridge across the feeder stream,
trail to rocks on the side of the dam.
In wet years, climb down to feel the spray.
In dry, cross the spillway below the mossy top.

Alison Hicks was awarded the 2021 Birdy Prize from Meadowlark Press for Knowing Is a Branching Trail. Previous collections are You Who Took the Boat Out and Kiss, a chapbook Falling Dreams, and a novella Love: A Story of Images. Her work has appeared in Eclipse, Gargoyle, Permafrost, and Poet Lore. She was named a finalist for the 2021 Beullah Rose prize from Smartish Pace, and nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Green Hills Literary LanternQuartet Journal, and Nude Bruce Review. She is founder of Greater Philadelphia Wordshop Studio, which offers community-based writing workshops. Check out more of her latest book Branding Trail and more work on her site |  Facebook | Amazon

This is Alison’s debut with Birdy. Keep your eyes peeled for more work by this talented writer.