Sarah Giragosian

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Superstitions of a Naturalist

It’s said if you trifle with a chrysalis,
          your child will be as stunted
as a chaste tree. Aphids will infest her dreams.

          Kill an orchard orb-
weaver and a riot of mosquitoes will fill
          up on your flesh. Worse still, clip

the wings of a spicebush swallowtail
          and every meal will taste stale for a year.
Bird steward, beware: if you let slip

          the hidden nesting grounds of hatchlings,
you might as well move by week’s end.
          All of your neighbors will be on first name basis

with your skeletons. Forget to plant milkweed
          for the monarchs, and all your pollinators
will go on a three-year hiatus.

          But if you protect every old-growth forest with
your life and don’t blink
          the next time a red-tailed hawk skims

overhead, then no jinx
          will slip from her beak, no cry from the tree line
will augur scourge this time round.

Tunnel of Silence

Usually associated with a passing raptor..., the tunnel of silence indicates the recent flight path of a predator...Birds remain hidden, unsure where the danger is; they slowly come out of hiding over time or if a bird they trust begins to sing nearby.
          -John Young and Tiffany Morgan, Animal Tracking Basics

And though the racket of life’s
suspended—corvids riveted,
linnets silenced— still
this frenzy in the brain
like a handful of hornets
resumes: What is this trick?
Is it zeroing in?
Can it hear my pulse,
                        my overloud thinking?
Careful now:               not a twitch or flinch,
not a word of consolation,
and in our throats’ collective snags
we are one scream away
from blowing this trial of waiting.
And you should know by now
that I’ve felt in my soul a surveillance
colder than any raptor eye
and though this tunnel of silence
in this corridor of hemlocks
is just one tiny edge of the world,
we jailbirds, like overstretched violin strings,
are the tension that wants to make music again.


Sarah Giragosian is a poet and critic living in Schenectady, NY. She is the author of the poetry collections Queer Fish, a winner of the American Poetry Journal Book Prize (Dream Horse Press, 2017)) and The Death Spiral (Black Lawrence Press, forthcoming). Her poems have recently appeared in such journals as Ecotone, The Missouri Review, Prairie Schooner, and Denver Quarterly, among others.