I set the phone in its cradle and watched a warbler hopping in the autumn dogwood near the gate. The bird stopped in my yard on its way to Venezuela.

Miniscule. Dusty yellow. A stripe on its wing. It could sit in my palm, except the little thing is quick

and I’m ashamed of myself for thinking—in the midst of admiration for the verve inside its hollow bones—

that I could crush it as I could a piece of paper or a leaf. But it won’t be caught and so I’m saved, though not

for any goodness I possess. When my father said it was on his liver—10 centimeters by 12, on his liver—

12 seemed too big to be in him, who was big to me and is big, even now that I am grown. The little warbler is four inches long. How big is a centimeter? 

When I was small he taught me: to get to inches we divide by three.

Thursday, September 11, 2003
5:45pm - 6:45pm M110
Jennifer Wallace lives in Baltimore, MD. where she teaches at the Maryland Institute, College of Art. She is co-author of the chapbook, Voices from Behind Bars: a Collection of Writings from Women at the Westchester County Correctional Facility and was a semi-finalist in the Slapering Hol Press and New Millennium Writing Awards. She is the recipient of a grant from the Vermont Studio Center and an award for excellence in teaching from the Teachers and Writers Collaborative. Her work has been published in literary journals including Lumina, Mars Hill Review, American Writing, Sarah Lawrence Review, Christian Poetry Review, Fortune News and in the 1998 MICA exhibition catalog, Subject to Change. A recent collaboration with poet, Heidi Hart and composer, Richard Smith, entitled Psalms of Water and Stone, was recorded in June, 2003.  


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