by Alexis Rhone Fancher
“Birds born in cages think that flying is an illness.” Alejandro Jodorowsky
He loves me because I look like his mother at 30.
I discover her photo in a secret drawer,
the same rounded hips,
and dark, wavy hair,
her pale, off-the-shoulder blouse an exact
duplicate of one he’s given me.
She has bigger breasts, deeper cleavage.
You eat like a bird! her son chastises,
passing me the cheesecake.
Suddenly it all makes sense.
Like when he cries Mama! in his dreams.
Awakens empty-armed. Abandoned.
He does not cry for me.
Shoved under our door, a flyer:
“If you find a dead bird, call 1-877-WNV-BIRD.”
Lost between the bed and the mirror, I look and look.
He hides his obsession in a stack of magazines
in the bathroom. A blur of a girl, naked,
disappearing in a doorway. It could be his mother.
He locks the door.
Plump bird. Feathered nest.
Force-fed. Fois gras.
Fattened up for slaughter.
Someone’s dinner. Someone’s daughter.
When he hits me because I look like his mother,
he pulls back his fist, takes aim at her caged facsimile.
I hold perfectly still.
We both know he could never hit his mother.
* * * * *
"Caged" was first published in Diaphanous (July, 2018)
L.A poet Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry, Rattle, Poetry East,
Hobart, VerseDaily, American Journal of Poetry, Duende, Plume, Diode, Wide Awake:
Poets of Los Angeles, and elsewhere. She’s the author of five published poetry collections, most
recently, Junkie Wife (Moon Tide Press, 2018), and The Dead Kid Poems (KYSO Flash
Press, 2019). EROTIC: New & Selected, publishes in 2020 from New York Quarterly. Her
photographs are published worldwide, including River Styx, and the covers of Pithead Chapel,
Heyday, and Witness. A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis is poetry
editor of Cultural Weekly. www.alexisrhonefancher.com