Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board

Summer J. Hart

I was furious with my mother because she gave away one of my cats while I was gone. She replaced the cat with two small brown birds. The birds flapped around in a cage & pulled at each other’s feathers with determined beaks.

I unhinge the door, watch them spin & catch on the curtains.


I hid down by the river until my mother went hysterical.

I flew into my sister’s room & whirled the air above her bed until she screamed.


Holly crawled across the bed, her hair teased up like she was on MTV. I watched with one eye through the cardboard lens of a paper towel roll.

The record started to skip.

This isn’t how the game is played, she said, blowing cat hair off the needle.


Holly’s great-aunt had been an oracle. We pried off the antique Ouija board her father had nailed backwards to the attic wall & snuck it downstairs.

He smoked & watched us from the living room.

Some curses skip a generation.


The spirit was charming but ill-intentioned. After a hand touched Holly in the shower we nailed the board back up. We burned the planchette we had cut out of a Folger’s lid under the lilac bush with a handful of dandelion, burdock, & clover.


That night I dreamt four crows were chasing an eagle. Three vultures circled. I threw two flat stones into the river. The eagle took flight. Clutched in its talons, still singing, was a bright red bird.


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