Bird-Witching Carla
Sara Tracey

She was born cross-eyed,
flat thumbed and broad toed
like our grandfather,
like kids with Downs.
No one told our mother.
She had enough to worry about,
this fourth daughter small enough
to fit across her palm.

Kindergarten came early,
an August birthday.
They should have held her back,
but she was smart, betrayed
the secret prophecy of thumbs.

Still, smart is not enough at five,
and the little girl could not control
her stick limbs and long neck.
A gym class failure, playground pariah,

kids built in her a recess of insults,
told stories of a burnt-down barn
the bus passed each afternoon,
named my sister a witch, a coven
of black birds sleeping inside.

Bird-Witching Carla was born,
anger steeped inside until slumber,
when torment turned to nightmares,
sleepwalking; black eye
from a doorknob in the dark.

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