“Among Peacocks” by Miracle Thornton

Miracle Thornton


my father squeezes past, an old scarf jerked and drawn
about his neck. smell drags throughout the house
as they collect loose change from the cushion cheeks.
the baby and i watch from our living room floor
as they brush hips and give each other big manly pats
on the ass. we heard them last night, gurgling
courage. an irritated hand held my father’s head
underwater and stroked his spine until he calmed.
from the sliver beneath the door, their feet wrinkled
and softened, my father’s knees chimed. i’ve heard too many
stories about the accident, traced scars and felt pins
jutting against his suede legs. the bird heading the window:
my father’s body against asphalt, sheaths of them
forcibly molted as a consequence for their delight.
my father still quivers like a boy at the sight of glass,
fawns at truck tires, fanning his cheeks. they met
before the fall—before their bodies bore the impact
—thinning the breast of a heifer. drunk and puffing
or with a balled mouth, they leave to find something
better than love for a boy: the pastoral south, a man baring
his bloodless face to the wind, a corona sweating
beside wings, the laughter of other limitless brothers.
i pity them. i correct the bunching of the scarf
and he kisses the baby’s tall forehead. it grabs
at the keys jangling from his hips.

from Plucked
2023 Rattle Chapbook Prize Winner


Miracle Thornton: “When I encountered the Aesop fable, the moral of the story—an individual caught between pride and loyalty—immediately resonated with me. Growing up, I always felt pulled between the environment of my home and my hometown. It was difficult to understand who I was when it changed depending on the room, depending on whomever else occupied the space. The bird was a powerful conduit and spoke to the illusive aspects of my ever-evolving sense of self.”

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