On the Occasion Your Back Should Sprout Wings

by William Bonfiglio


Be gentle;
the shoots will be tender
as will the flesh
surrounding your shoulder blades.

When reclining, lie on your side
and take measures so that
you do not roll in your sleep
and crush the extra appendages.

Within days of appearing
the triangular folds
will show creamy pinions.
The plumes will be softer than down.

To keep them clean, wash them
using warm water and a mild detergent.
Swish the feathers around, but do not scrub them.
Rinse, reshape, and blow dry.

Until fully formed, they will be delicate.
Go without a shirt whenever possible
so that the stems
might sprout forth unimpeded.

With proper care, and a little luck
you will be a wonder.


Pay attention;
those shoots could sprout blemished
and the bones could be thin and bowed.                                            

If that is the case                                                                    
take a knife or pair of shears
and prune them from your shoulders.                                               
They will be young enough
that the blood will clot quickly. 

And when you wake up
the next morning
and find they have reemerged
cleave them again. 

Vigilance is key.
Uncropped, the cartilage will harden
and the roots will become tangled
in the body’s natural muscle. 

Should this occur
the buds may be bound
with long strips of cloth.
Wearing a heavy jacket will both conceal
and impede further growth. 

Your labors will be rewarded
and you will slink away whole
and partly whole.


            In either circumstance,
            make no attempt at flight.

            You cannot risk surrendering
            the sight of your feet
            firmly grounded.


William Bonfiglio is a PhD candidate at the University of New Brunswick. His poetry has been awarded a Pearl Hogrefe Grant in Creative Writing Recognition Award, the Julia Fonville Smithson Memorial Prize, and has appeared in American Journal of Poetry, New Letters, PRISM international, and elsewhere.