with no cliffs for days,

                         the feathered fork-tailed

                      attackers bivouac their

                   mud-pellet nest

               to the bungalow’s

             low porchlight.

              when the screen door

             flings wide, a flurry of

                  screeches and divebombs

                      swallow me, trip me up on

                            bellbottom hems, fell me

                                 like a repentant believer

                                   to stained knees, arms

                                 a poor shield

                              to bombardiers,

                            feathers grazing hair

                          and fear.

                      i blame them for it all.

                   for their audacious courtship,

               for chores, for the hazy

             daze of lonely days, for

                childhood, for wings too.


                   if i knew they were

                      a gulp of swallows,

                     would I have

                   been kind?

              if i knew they were

            a richness, would i

         have stolen

        big sister’s

       tennis racquet,

            the one she


                   ball after ball

                   after ball against

                 the shop door?

            my small fist grips

         the hollow-boned shaft,

      part Martina,

    all McEnroe.

i swing at

those mamas,

     do worse

        to the mice

           with a hockey


Leanne Shirtliffe (she/her) is a writer and educator, born and raised in rural Manitoba, now based in Calgary. Her poetry explores farming, feminism and family, and can be read (or is forthcoming) in CV2, FreeFall and Hellebore Press. More: leanneshirtliffe.com or read her overheard haiku on Instagram @leanne_shirtliffe