Cotton Xenomorph is a new literary journal produced with the mission to showcase new, and ecstatic art while reducing language of oppression in our community. We are dedicated to uplifting new and established voices while engaging in thoughtful conversation around social justice.

Sudden Death

By Christina Xiong

I sat on my brother-in-law’s deck
in spring, season I struggle to release.
Something blue fluttered to the ground
from a maple sapling. A blue jay lay beak-down
in the dirt, I called them over;
only I had seen its sudden descent.

The bird was unmarked, still
blue, sheened with pearlescent down.
They wanted an explanation: he dropped
with a flourish of wings. I don’t know
why—old age—an outbreak—weariness of living?
As the only witness, I felt at fault somehow.

There was a kinship between us.
I had long cursed myself with details,
flourish and fall coiled in my limbs,
wound tightly around human-heavy bones.

We retreated to the house, joking to ease
the tension. I envied them with their long-neck beers,
amber glass adorned in dew,
like the cold sweat drenching my shoulder blades.
I don’t know why the jay fell.
We left him there.

Christina Xiong’s debut chapbook The Gathering Song is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. Christina holds an MA in English and Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University and a BA in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. She is a Certified Story Medicine facilitator and a Certified North Carolina Peer Support Specialist. She lives in the foothills of Western North Carolina with her family.

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