A bird, and another bird, coast on the thermals. Long, slow tilts. The sun breathes their wings—feathers and porous bones. Beyond the road’s idle white line, two boys are fishing crawdads out of the drainage pond. Summer rises. The cloud’s pink antlers are coaxed by fire.

Helicopters disappear over the ridge, rotors clicking. The boys think: the sound of a bucket-brigade. Sailors bailing the gullet of a ship; trinkets, bronze-plated crucifixes, St. Elmos pressed surreptitiously into their palms, chains wrapped double around their wrists. And we remember:

one day that spring there was hail. The puffs of the Cottonwood shook loose, charms caught before the season’s first lightning. “Wintermutes” we called them as they collapsed against the pond, slipped over the thumbs of our cupped hands.

On the trunk of a Pin Oak, a cicada pushes its way out of its shell. My best friend in my bedroom is stepping on his hem; he is a heap of laughter on the floor. Trinket, lung made out of all other memories.
But the birds? They are apostrophes flexing!

Todd Fredson