February Floods by Amy Tuttle This body and all of its layers- a gilded birdcage. Beautiful house of a thousand drawers. Small rooms with rod iron fencing. Intricate, delicate gates pause the threshold of each canary dwelling. Come close. Hear the sound of each canary ring- through the doors and walls and gates of their beautiful little palace. Each song a broken heart, limb lost, head wound, violation. Each song a story heard, kept as a token, held as service to lighten the load of the teller. Thousands of small yellow birds. Thousands of striking stories. They seemed safest, best kept in the gilded birdcage of this body. But the flood came. Deluge. Swept out and stirred up. All the intricate gates and delicate iron doors Flung Open. Yellow birds standing on edge. Testing atrophied wings. Deep breath in and the silence of rising water. At once, all of the bright sad story-keepers JUMP. From the edges of their safe, sweet dwellings they FALL. Dipping down to the water's edge. They catch a cusp of a wind-wave and rise clumsy winged and teetering. Catching air as they once again fly. Song begins to rumble. The Thunder of a Thousand Canaries telling tales. Singing out the grief of all the women, children, animals, plants, places, homes, and even men- Who have cried on my shoulder. THERE THEY GO! A free-flock flying East. ~~~ My Body. Emptied out by a February Flood- is no longer holding a thousand small, yellow birds. ~~~ I will hear your story. I will see, really see, the grief. I will witness you as you uncage your own sad songbird letting it fly free into unknown landscapes. BUT- I am no longer a birdcage body. Though I loved Janette's pain and gave it a bright blue room in my left shoulder. Though I cherished Krystal's children and gave all 3 a lovely orange balcony in my left knee. Though I felt responsible to take your larger-than-fair helping of suffering- and gave it a deep purple master suite in my gut. They have all flown away, flooded out, and the emptiness of the unbirded cage felt clanky lonely prison-like. Bumping up against the walls & corners, bending birdless bird dwellings battering the sides of this huge, empty house. When it was fully occupied, keeping hospitality to my guests, was my commitment- on my knees praying, making millions of pancakes, pouring perfect cups of tea. But an empty nest, The Warden no longer needs to feed, clothe, listen to, paint walls for. So, I lifted it up from my body- the gilded exoskeleton of my adolescent empathy and I set it at River's Edge. Watched as it floated, bright red tower, down the swift drag of an ocean swollen river.