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Megan Merchant

2020 Michelle Boisseau Prize winning poem

Every day I draw a different bird,

a heron — lanky, keen on watching, from a far-bank. 

The crow not swept behind, whispers things I was 

always meant to recall, but have shed — how to make

a slip knot from a bra strap, how to uncork a bottle 

with a stone, gut a fish with an ink stain. The ravens —

bend light. Bats tendril the load bearing walls of my 

chest. They are pockets secreted in night. Humming-

birds teach me F minor. Then F minor breaks me apart. 

And maybe the bird is the ache is the joint, and maybe 

it swallows the room with flight even when it looks, 

from the window, most like a cage. Or, maybe I am 

meant to sustain by envy — the slurry of gnats that 

funnel from an empty can, the sweet licked all-clean.

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Megan Merchant lives in the tall pines of Prescott, Arizona with her husband and two children. She holds an M.F.A. degree in International Creative Writing from UNLV and is the author of three full-length poetry collections with Glass Lyre Press: Gravel Ghosts (2016), The Dark’s Humming (2015 Lyrebird Award Winner, 2017), Grief Flowers (2018), four chapbooks and a children’s book, These Words I Shaped for You (Philomel Books). Her latest book, Before the Fevered Snow, was released in April 2020 with Stillhouse Press. She was awarded the 2016-2017 COG Literary Award, judged by Juan Felipe Herrera, the 2018 Beullah Rose Poetry Prize and most recently, second place in the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. She is an Editor at Pirene’s Fountain and The Comstock Review. You can find her work at

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