On Oblong Wings

In this feathered poem, Adele Donovan contemplates “the great longness of the current.”

Writing by Adele Donovan
Art by Irina Tall

On Oblong Wings, Angels Can’t Descend

A steller’s jay scuttled over the steps its wings carved into the air and down an alleyway, a hazelnut held tight in its sleek black beak. All the whittlings and warpings that it would take to twist the human frame divine into the form of a bird would make the head spin, conjectures pounding with the frantic heartbeat of something small enough to fit in your hand. Things seem to last longer when you’re a fragile object, and yet we cry over broken antiques.

Last summer, I stumbled upon a dead bluebird, its black-saddled throat bared to the wind peeling off the parking lot, the bacchanal of wee feathers writhing in ecstasy held from the moment of their formation. The wristwatch is cast underfoot and sealed in space with its hands pointing to a never-now carried over from a world growing deader by the hour. Well, that shan’t be anymore, and I can’t quite manage to fix the bird. Its tissues have already started to liquify under their mask of gloss and indigo.

I mourn for things I’ll be, for they’re far too far from the great longness of the current, and longing seems to be the trajectory of a sprout arcing to a sun gone black as beak and saddleneck. I’m waiting here for someone to light up the stars again, and time’s flag’s bunting stretches thin in the dark, marked and marred by tooth of moth until the end is all it speaks for, a bullhorn void and voiceless in murk borne in on fairy-dusty wings all dripping with night. Ink too stable a form for it to take, absence its reflection in the rearview mirror, closer than it appears but never colliding on the quickrunning river of ash-padded asphalt blitzing through these seared woods.

Tomorrow, a scrub jay made an appearance amidst the wintry sprigs. Perhaps all these ramblings have lead me back to a fine little ignorance, all happy and golucky and free from books and revelations.

About the Author

Adele Donovan is a Seattle-based trans writer. A graduate of the University of Iowa’s Between the Lines program, her work has appeared in Hiatus Magazine and Ice Lolly Review, and she is the author of two chapbooks, Ballads of Summer (2020) and Awaiting Great Fires (2021). She is a co-host of the Intersecting Lines podcast. Donovan explores themes of faith, nature, gender, love, art, cyclical rhythms, and change in her work.

About the Artist

body of water

Irina Tall (Novikova) is an artist, graphic artist, illustrator. She graduated from the State Academy of Slavic Cultures with a degree in art, and also has a bachelor’s degree in design. The first personal exhibition “My soul is like a wild hawk” (2002) was held in the museum of Maxim Bagdanovich. In her works, she raises themes of ecology, in 2005 she devoted a series of works to the Chernobyl disaster, draws on anti-war topics. The first big series she drew was The Red Book, dedicated to rare and endangered species of animals and birds. Writes fairy tales and poems, illustrates short stories. She draws various fantastic creatures: unicorns, animals with human faces, she especially likes the image of a man – a bird – Siren. In 2020, she took part in Poznań Art Week. Her work has been published in magazines: Gupsophila, Harpy Hybrid Review, Little Literary Living Room and others. In 2022, her short story was included in the collection “The 50 Best Short Stories”, and her poem was published in the collection of poetry “The wonders of winter”.

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