Up in the Aerie

In the tiny room of the library, next to the aviary
of dead birds where my dim reflection
feathered into an owl behind glass,

I perch at the desk
facing an oak-framed window—three-fourths full
of an oak tree with lobed leaves and acorns in thoughtful berets.

Between desk and window, a stairwell—chained off—
leads downward to darkness.
Above my perch an antique chandelier

of glass flowers—lightbulbs bulging—
doesn’t shed light
on the darkness below me.

Here, too—even here—
you can’t escape the gray-on-gray:
a canvas on the wall, freshly painted by a local,

depicts a mother holding her deceased
grown child, lost
to opioids.

In the painting, onlookers look off.
I get the picture.
It’s eerie, unsettling, it grounds me

in thoughts about cravings,
and people preying
on each other.

Cars whoosh like the sea.
Birds fly—dark lines across the sky.
The tick of a clock next to the painting paces me,

until it’s time to leave.
I pass the dead birds,
a large room full of books,

and walk down a hallway
of ancient portraits,
those faces—stolid,

as if they were hiding
emptiness inside





Laura Glenn_PedestalLaura Glenn’s collection of poems, I Can’t Say I’m Lost, was published by FootHills, and her chapbook When the Ice Melts by Finishing Line Press. Her poems have appeared in many journals, including The Antioch Review, Boulevard, Green Mountains Review, Massachusetts Review, Poet Lore, and Poetry, as well as various anthologies. The recipient of a CAP fellowship in poetry and a poetry grant from AE Ventures, she is working on another full-length collection. Also a visual artist, she lives in Ithaca, NY, and works as a freelance editor.