Back when the earth ran red,
fire and blood steaming the streets, the fields,
when wings were in fashion,
and we soared to each occasion –
as tiny as dandelion seeds, as large as eagles.
When women were birds, we were carrion-
feeders, claws seizing the night.
No nightingale songs for us.
We wheeled over battles, picked the victor,
the victim – didn’t matter to Wöden
whether their souls rested or rotted.
But it mattered to us.
We could decide by smile, by muscle.
Even by family.
Sometimes death was too good.
A more punishing path charted for them
where sulfur and smoke scorches forever.
Spears pierced bodies, shields shattered,
impotent swords slumped from hands
now open, like their eyes, to the sky.
A sky they never noticed before
full of circling shadows, our mercy no more
than a beak tearing flesh, the sound
of wings lifting and fading away.
KB Ballentine’s seventh collection, Edge of the Echo, is scheduled to launch May of 2021 with Iris Press. Her earlier books can be found with Blue Light Press, Middle Creek Publishing, and Celtic Cat Publishing. Published in Crab Orchard Review and Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, among others, her work also appears in anthologies including In Plein Air (2017) and Carrying the Branch: Poets in Search of Peace (2017).