Clutch

In late October when
the wrens nest and watch
their brothers
leave, my mother and I walked
along the rim of the lake,
my two-inch fingers wrapped
tightly around hers.

That’s covered in germs. Don’t touch
it
, she said when
I looked down,
found the glimmering
brown feather, the hawk’s flight suspended

in the grass.
I did not ask
questions like, Why
does the wind push
birds to the earth?
or
How does a child lose
its feathers?

No; I touched the edge
of my lips to keep
the words from flying
away. The feather lay suspended

in my eye,
fingers curling around my mother’s,
dull talons on a nest.