When a nest’s no longer needed, jays leave it to rain’s wet ribbons.
Foxes move on after a den’s done its warm duty.

Wasps complete papery ministries, abandon the hollow cone.
Every several years cicadas clatter then clutter tree trunks with husks.

A hermit crab swaps sea shells.

There’s a wanderer in my veins, blood of railroad workers, pioneers,
poor folk eating soup in dark apartments. Weekly, I look

for the barn owl in the long-needled pine of the vacant lot behind
the house. She hides from dawn to dusk, clues me

with confetti of mouse bones found on soft ground
beneath her perch. Whenever I think of leaving, whenever

I think of leaving, she swoops the night yard,
chastises me with a wind of outstretched wings,

silently as the hollow of my clavicle, large as the space
that follows goodbye.

Alexa Mergen


Alexa Mergen lives on a boat in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. She grew up in Washington, D.C. and has also lived in cities and small towns in California, Michigan, Nevada and West Virginia. Her poems appear in numerous journals including Inlandia, Turtle Island Quarterly and Virginia Quarterly Review.

© 2019