choking hazards

my son found the body
of a baby bird on the sidewalk
once when he was still small
enough to sit still in a stroller

he pointed 
to its bald body
bent akimbo just 
beside the back tires

we lived outside
the city then
trees everywhere and no way
to tell from which it had fallen

I thought the thing was dead
until it twitched 
and so did I 
toward it 

it bridged in my palm 
like those thin plastic fish that
writhe when you hold them
against your body heat

it is a myth
that a mother bird 
will abandon the nest 
if she smells human hands

a twig caught 
in the choking bird’s throat
I fished it out 
like I would a cheerio

we walked it to a vet up the hill
and they phoned a sanctuary
tried to feed it a puree 
of thawed freezer blueberries

they told me to call back
later if I was curious 
and wanted to know
how it all went

years have passed
two new homes
another child 
a daughter

I never asked 
what happened
to the bird 
but I can guess

how to remove cradle cap 

flood the land first 
soaked sod, coconut skin
pangea in reverse
this earth made an inheritance 

set the teeth at an angle
over the pleated places
and grassy plains 
take care, rake gently 

bury the shovel tip of your nose
into fresh turned loam
breathe in the springtime scent
of brand new flowers 

be wary
of what bubbles soft 
springs, warm water 
sinkholes between tectonic plates 

assure yourself (misery) 
recalling that planting season
is short work, that
harvests also will not last forever

RACHAEL INCIARTE (she/they) lives in California with their family. They hold an MFA from Emerson College, with work appearing in Poetry Northwest, Spillway, Normal School and others. What Kind of Seed Made You is their first chapbook, forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. They are growing a garden and it's thriving.