The Maynard
Spring 2015

Melissa Nelson

Brains Lost to the Earth

Here beneath the violets
in the garden of yes and no
lies a medium-sized crow.
Oil-slick feathers turned to slime
and body brittle, breaking,
its beak’s edges bare to the bone—
and somewhere within these
spindling mulberry trees the breeze
remembers its curved wings’ cruise
along the airways, the pathways
only it knew from perch to perch
and through the ever-growing
Here, a mole trembled. There,
a fading man recalled the nursery
myths he was told as a child:
one for sorrow, two for joy.
He scratched his loose temple
and thought about glint quartz pebbles
left on the edge of the birdbath
there, beneath the mulberry bows.
Here lies the worms beneath the violets
who ate the soil that was the brain
that held the thoughts no
philosopher or poet could ever see—
the caviar-gleamed eyes,
black like the bottom,
ground down into grit.