Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 37
Summer Solstice, 2020

New Works

Jennifer Woodworth

Even the Sky

Starlings murmur blue sky into black and back again the roll of my body catches up my breath, a gasp—pleasure of touch and speed and turn, joy of seeing the baby play, but then I feel a shiver in the feather on the nape of my neck a sense of terror seeing up close the predator who will end our lives should I choose my next move carelessly. But it's an easy escape, as long as we tend to the sense

in our feathers.        A startled starling's feather twitches and she moves suddenly or dives toward the lake and her singular movement turns all of us one way or another there is no start no end just chaos speeding through the flock from middle to edge fast I mean speed-of-light fast not first-this-then-that fast. We disguise ourselves

as entropy, frightening off the most fearsome falcons. Success with a regular random strategy is much more terrifying than success with claws and beaks and teeth and roars. You can fight a wild animal. You can fight someone's free will. But you can't fight

what's coming up next on the die or the deck of cards, or which bird will come at you or which way we'll turn, surprise and again. You can't fight chaos. You can't fight

predestination. Soon the predator is gone—our instinct saves us.     dance of order and grace in chaos and immediately we return to our magnificent tessellations—one bird's head fits precisely under another's wing, continuing across the sky and now one is upside down and the next is right side up and my baby has the hiccups, which is random and tickles

a feather on each of her seven nearest neighbors who turn to her in a fleck of loving surprise to scare the hiccups out—and those hiccups fly with the murmur of starlings as surely as your greatest fear travels with your greatest joy, both so simply stated—my baby, my baby; chaos

flows continually into fullness            the flock floods the sky            the hiccups are gone          the baby's fine and          like lovers            chaos joins with order        rolling together          a bed of sky          deep breaths each          a twinge of ecstasy          and because you feel it          you feel          even the sky          has a shape.

Jennifer Woodworth studied creative writing at Old Dominion University. She is the author of the chapbook, "How I Kiss Her Turning Head," published by Monkey Puzzle Press. Her stories and poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from Gone Lawn, The Citron Review, Bending Genres Journal, The Eastern Iowa Review, *82 Review and The Inflectionist Review, among others. She's also a nominee for a 2020 Micro Fiction. She knows how lucky she is any time she gets to write.