Sep 24

Red Bird, Red Bird

By Summer J. Hart

We practice cartwheels on the lawn.

Bright red summer birds pluck insects out of the air.

I slip on my jellies even though they blister my heels & follow her to the pool,
sidestepping trails of melted Friendly’s ice cream—cartography for ants.


Red bird, red bird baked in a pie, how many wasps did you pinch from the sky?


Lying on the path is a tiny wing. I pick it up & hold it between my thumb & pointer.
Its stillness is the softest brown. Wind rustles the top of an ancient oak. Its hunger
is another color. I make a wish only a moth can understand & blow. The wing turns
three loops at the sun before settling next to the hydrangea.


I was drying in the sun. My new bathing suit was already too small—the tan-lines
on my hips kept a catalog of weeks. My grandfather exhaled hard into the lawn
chair next to me, the way old people do when they sit. He wore jeans even though
summer is hotter here. I paused my Walkman.

I pressed my thumb into my shoulder & watched the white disappear.

Now I can see the Red Man in you.

He meant, now I can see him in you.

Because I am a girl & also a ghost.

I dove backwards into the water.


I trace the whorls with my feet. The fingerprint tastes of grass & chlorine. The air
vibrates with chattering mosquitos & the faint laughter of summer girls tucked in
for the night but not yet sleeping. Night climbers unfurl, each flower a moon. I press
my body against the wing &, with a click, lock it into place.

I fly at the stars, spiraling ever closer to the light.

There are some maps only a moth can read.


Summer J. Hart is an interdisciplinary artist from Maine, living in the Hudson Valley, New York. Her written and visual narratives are influenced by folklore, superstition, divination, and forgotten territories reclaimed by nature. Her poetry appears in Northern New England Review, Volume 39 and her mixed-media installations have been featured in galleries including Pen + Brush, NYC, Gitana Rosa Gallery at Paterson Art Factory, Paterson, NJ, and LeMieux Galleries, New Orleans, LA. She is a member of the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation.


Art by Michelle Johnsen, art editor

Michelle Johnsen is a nature and portrait photographer in Lancaster, PA, as well as an amateur herbalist and naturalist. Her work has been featured by It’s Modern Art, Susquehanna Style magazine, Permaculture Activist magazine,, EarthFirst! Journal, Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, and used as album art for Grandma Shake!, Anna & Elizabeth, and Liz Fulmer Music. Michelle’s photos have also been stolen by, The Daily Mail, and Lancaster Newspapers. You can contact her at mjphoto717 [at]