← Issue 9

Distraction Display

by Jay Paine

It’s not hard
to identify the killdeer with her eye 
burning a bitter orange 
around the pupil like a solar eclipse 
against the sticks and pebbles
and it isn’t hard 
for her to identify me, 
the man perched too close to her
on a rock, a pencil 
balanced between two fingers 
like a cigarette. 
Perceiving me as a threat to her eggs, 
she hops toward me 
and performs a desperate dance, 
a display of a wing bent 
broken. I study her choreography, 
the way she unfurls 
her wing, steps in circles, unfurls 
her wing, steps in circles, 
I unfurl a clean page to sketch her wanting so badly
for me to believe her affliction. 
I outline her wing, her head, and try to forget 
how it works for artists like us. 
Artists hoping 
our imitated injuries might trick death and preserve 
that part of us still unhatched, 
that part of us that might mature  
into something immortal. 
I’ll finish her picture
tomorrow. The facade 
of her fractured 
wing. The grim eye. 
That fervid halo
of light.

An enthusiast of philosophy, Jay Paine often overindulges in existentialism, but when he’s not grappling with the meaning of life, you can find him penning a poem underneath a bigtooth maple at Utah State University.