Bill Neumire

The Glacier
Issue One
Fall 2022

The last known passenger pigeon*, Martha, died in a Cincinnati Zoo in 1914 at 29 years old. Efforts have begun to genetically bring the bird back.

unbroken front of millions, our copper
				  & slate blue world would pour
				  its living mass into the valleys

50 cents a dozen you sold for in the end? 

I’d been infertile all 29 years of my time
				 in the small sky of weatherless days. 
				 Cheap meat, they said. 

My report says you were “victimized by the fallacy 
			       that no amount of exploitation could 
			       endanger a creature so abundant.” Pitchforks 
			       & whiskey-poisoned corn?

Feathered tempest, they called us as we dove
                 	       for acorns & beechnuts, 
		               a plague of wings, we spread like waves of time
	 	               itself, such that the tail of us knew Noah’s sea, 
		               knew God before the anger

Your chromosomes can return you
		              Would you like to come back?

I still taste the birch leaves & hilltop air, 
		              but there are skies within the sky
		              a before & after that you can’t understand. 
		              Our return at earliest spring
		              caused rejoicing among the poor
		              who were cold & hungry & could kill us
		              in great numbers just by reaching their hands into the sky. 

He was going to the party, but first he had to get rid of the body,

which was fixed to his wrists, such that should he gesticulate, the body would twitch & flail, 
would reanimate & seem to wake.

The party was three streets over at the Morgan Road Firehouse & as he thought of it he 
remembered the summer the kids dressed in bathing suits & washed the firetrucks, steam 
confessing off the hoods.

He saw Kim & Rob up ahead who were also going to the party & who also were struggling 
to find a sense of grace while dragging their bodies. An old woman in a fourth floor window looked 
down hoping for scandal & he could see behind her the shadow of another body.

He walked with Kim & Rob, & Rob pulled out a flask & they got a little warm & spun & sang 
& the bodies swung around like scarves. “Is mine still there? I thought I felt lighter for a second,” 
Kim asked. “Still there.” 

& further on they saw the evening news anchor in her sweats—but definitely her—dragging hers, 
a thin Eastern European one, toward the party, & they hollered, “hey, we know you! You’re the face 
of the evening news!” & she acted put off but she smiled a moment later as she walked on.

& then they saw Mackenzie, sweet young Mackenzie who had come home so quiet after two 
years in the Corps & she was going to the party & the body she dragged was purple-lipped &
bloated & stank like the sea. “Join us, M?” “I don’t see why not,” she said, & the bodies 
sometimes hit a hydrant or got stuck in a sewer grate, but they managed.

& then on Second Street a boy, maybe 8, Paul’s boy, yelled, “How’d you get them dead bodies 
stuck to ya?” & then they all looked back, but it was Marie who just pointed at the boy’s own by 
way of an answer, & they kept walking.

& a few minutes later they came upon the firehouse all scarred with light & the whole town 
was there with their bodies -- it had been so long since they’d let themselves out & they made 
adjustments & drank & someone turned some music on, & they began to dance, finally, 
like dark, happy smoke with bright, human heads.

*Several factoids and notes taken from Wikipedia articles on the Passenger Pigeon.

BILL NEUMIRE‘s second book of poems, #TheNewCrusades, was a finalist for the Barrow Street Prize and is available from Unsolicited Press. 

Artwork by David Dodd Lee.
© The Glacier 2022. All rights reserved.