Whenever my mother spoke French
green birds flew into the kitchen.
They circled the formica table — so fast
that green became a whining sound.
The birds they sang my mother young,
her shiny ankles asking to be seen.
They sang her slender arms, holding open spaces
then leaving them, drunk on each new idiom.
They sang my mother lace.
And when the birds left, as they always did,
I watched her knot the apron ties
behind her back,
like a well-worn magic trick.
Non-Native by G.E. Stevens was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2019) judged by Terry Jones.