Sciatica Ornithology

the start of something / a puffed-out robin’s chest

the start of something
a puffed-out robin’s chest,

calf muscles flutter,
hundreds of feather tips
lifted by the breeze.

           a beak pulling at a loose thread.
           the act of building a nest first requires something else to unravel.

spasms across the back of my thigh,
                coyotes yelping into the night—
a flock of partridges, scattered.

7 a.m., packing another lunch:
apple sauce, hummus, berries, a tuning fork

                     rattles my leg,
                     parched, ready to ignite,
                     blame the blackbird,
                          such scored calls radiate
                     down and out.


right angles,

body not
meant to be square,
lie me flat


I beg until my back goes grey,
blood spot on my lower lip, I become
the Herring Gull.


the sacral bill of the White-faced Ibis
dips down below the muck

in and out of the cliffside/dosette

this time, which trinkets
are dropped into the gaping mouths
of babies?

Canada Goose,
just one
with a domestic flock,

a crowd gathers.

everyone keeps asking,
is it coming? is it going?

instead of, what
does it need in that moment?

as many doctors as sparrows in the grasses.

I stop remembering them,
abbreviate as Spine appt.
so on

I’m submerged again,

tunic damp,
three days sweat,
reach, body slick, can’t
quite—too late

red slash
up the collar,
the loon
crying out.

About the author

Samantha Jones (she/her) is a poet, earth scientist, and editor based in Calgary, Alberta on Treaty 7 territory. Her writing appears in THIS, Room, Watch Your Head, Grain, CV2, GeoHumanities, Arctic, and elsewhere. Sam's visual OCD poetry chapbook, Site Orientation, was published by the Blasted Tree in 2022 and her full-length poetry collection, Attic Rain, is forthcoming with NeWest Press in Fall 2024. Her writing often explores living with chronic and mental illness, mixed-race identity, and the intersections of science and art.