Two Poems | by Alia Hussain Vancrown


you have atypical cells in your cervix

             two rows of suckers on a cephalopod limb

string-of-pearl cysts on your ovaries

             shoals empty of oysters, divers greasing cotton balls
                          for eardrums drumming the sea

type two diabetes triggered by PCOS

               ill-tempered triggerfish, teeth shaped for crushing shells


              hagfish, skull, no vertebral column

healing takes hard work, do you even want to breathe

                           pin bones lodged in throat–
                                         neck a billowing canvas for sails and gills



The Bird & The Bird

The bird in my ribcage sings to the bird in your ribcage
The bird is a treasure in my chest the bird is a treasure in your chest
The bird is a sparrow the bird is a sparrowhawk
Naked pink sparrows fall and naked pink sparrowhawks fall
And sometimes a grandmother and a different grandmother
Take the chicks home to teach their grandchildren how to save a life
From being taken apart little by little by ants, little by little
Their naked pink souls carried off to feed an entire colony
The bird in my cage asks the bird in your cage
Are the ants doing something wrong and the bird in your cage
Says there is no right and there is no wrong
There is the grandmother and her granddaughter
There is the grandmother and her grandson
And look at how strong the branches grow
And look at how deep the nests go
Love is a made thing, it is made, it is made, it makes


And so when the bird in my ribs exploded in feathers
When the hunter killed for joy not survival
When the hunter danced to a death cry
The bird in your ribs dove and the bird’s
Talons shredded the hunter’s forearm, scalp, eyes
And all the hunter could do was spit and hide
His language black saliva he could not swallow
Your bird language richer, blacker blood


Love is a made thing, it is made, it is made, it makes
Nothing can die when it is made, it is made, it makes
The bird in my chest is a pile of motionless wings
The bird in your chest is the wind



Alia Hussain Vancrown has published in journals and magazines in print and online. Her poetry has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She was selected to participate in Winter Tangerine‘s 2018 workshop, Singing Songs Crooning Comets, featuring seminars by Kaveh Akbar and Aricka Foreman. Alia works at the Library of Congress in the Law Division. She currently resides in Maryland.

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