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I am not like the others Today as I sit writing at the kitchen table a brawny flicker lands on the porch checking out the empty feeder leaning against the post

And I am mesmerized by this male's round-shouldered slope of wing heart racing my toes grip the wood floor my thighs tense shoulders drop coiling in wait as I watch his wiry articulated legs and claws gripping the wood planks just before each hop the substantial weight of him apparent as he pushes against gravity toward the feeder

I want him I want to touch him run my fingers the wrong way along his back feel the hollow cartilage spine of each striped taupe feather feel the warmth of his compact body in the palm of my hand

I want to touch his extraordinary black beak long and thick exactly perfectly right for him imagining he smells of sap, dry wood and pale winter sun I want to brush my face along his rusty rose dusted cheek imagining an intimacy between us imagining his breath in my ear the shrill shriek of his call penetrating my human upright otherness I want to know what it feels like for him to look at me

I want him to take me with him to take me to nest me between his wings and pierce my hungry troubled heart to remind me of my first language a lost language I want him to make me whole

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