The Beak & The Body Entire

by Christina Hutchins

From the third floor of a bottle-brush tree
I am all morning serenaded
by the plain, brown sparrow who yesterday
evening flew into my high room
& fluttered madly in the corners.

October blooming jasmine was tuning
the air for loss. I spoke
soft, ridiculous endearments
while the bird perched on the curtain rod,
chirped along a chair rail, then swooped

out the window now open at my elbow…
where shifts of air change & shift-change
again, & the whistle-voice announces
each change & comments, too, how
sunlight’s unhurried lightning keeps

falling through a bridal-veiled sky…
The sun keeps passing over my wrists &
leaping up from the floor between shadows
of ankle & table-leg! Around the curved,
unstill shadows of my shoulders & head,

negative space is no darkness but light,
embracing my shadows from every side.
A radiant sun all around me?
How can this be? You know:
singing’s release.


The Dead


Christina Hutchins

Christina Hutchins’ recent poems appear in Antioch Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Denver Quarterly, The New Republic, Salmagundi, The Southern Review, and Women’s Review of Books. In 2010-11, she won The Missouri Review Editor’s Prize, National Poetry Review’s Finch Prize, the Becker Chapbook Prize for RADIANTLY WE INHABIT THE AIR, and Sixteen Rivers Press published THE STRANGER DISSOLVES. She holds degrees from University of California, Harvard, and the Graduate Theological Union and has worked as a biochemist and as a Congregational minister. She now teaches poetry and the philosophies of Judith Butler and Alfred North Whitehead to graduate students at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley and serves as the first poet laureate of Albany, California.

photo by Ronna Leon