What We Did at the End of the World

By Sunni Brown Wilkinson

We played charades to words we’d forgotten. We made a fire of them with our hands.
We wrote songs on the piano, gave them names like “Fox and Mouse” and “Lightning Chase.”
We watched our parakeets dance in front of their tiny yellow-framed mirror.
We watched them sleep, three on a perch, with their quick beaks tucked in.
We made bread. The top cracked open and we peeled it back and spread butter on
and ate it. We didn’t wear shoes. We wrapped ourselves in scarves.
We opened birthday cards to listen to the music hiding
behind the plastic button. We opened and closed, opened and closed until the songs grew tinny.
We gathered snail shells from the garden. 47. We saw one naked at the base of the daisies.
We made music with ice and water and glasses. We hummed under the covers at night.
We waved tree branches like arms. We waved at the stars. We waved at our silent neighbors.
We taped song lyrics to doors. We swept the fuzz from the rugs
into piles of gray hair. We lifted them carefully when they huddled together like a nest.
We listened at the door of an uncracked egg.
We watched the quail scurry across the street, that one feather on their heads quivering
in the wind like the feathers of great ladies in the movies we watched at night.
We dreamed of the sea untangling its wide blue braids.
We opened our mouths in the morning and salt leaked out.
We called each other dear and laughed at words like rudbeckia. We planted
rudbeckia. We danced like it. We wore yellow too.
Just before we flew away, we were mirrors. That deep. That true.

Sunni Brown Wilkinson’s most recent work can be found in Western Humanities Review, Sugar House Review, Ruminate, and South Dakota Review. She is the author of The Marriage of the Moon and the Field (Black Lawrence Press, 2019) and The Ache & The Wing (winner of Sundress Publications’ 2020 Chapbook Prize). Her work has been awarded New Ohio Review’s NORward Poetry Prize, the Joy Harjo Poetry Prize, and the Sherwin W. Howard Award. She teaches at Weber State University and lives in northern Utah with her husband and three sons. https://www.sunnibrownwilkinson.com/

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