Wings wait folded neatly in dressers,
hang off nails on walls, like carrion.
On wash day, I stretch their full wingspan,
their weight brings in the saguaros to each side.
On market day, vulture wings clasp onto
my shoulders, nest over soft, dark hair.
One end, prickly like pears,
reaches across my neck, grips onto my nape,
as fingers run over okra, scallions, asparagus stalks
wound tight. Before labor, a midwife
wraps vulture wings around my lower waist
coerces my child out of its dark vessel,
cocoons her filmy skin.
Days later, my bundled child hangs,
a growth on my back,
as I feed honey-mesquite limbs to a fire.
As she grows, vulture wings will hang off her frame
—intricate silvery-dark plumage,
tiered chestnut patterns—
Beautiful, my wings
she will say to daughters years later.
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