Micaela Bombard holds an MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College and an MS in Narrative Medicine from Columbia University. Her publications include Four Way Review, The Anthology of New England Writers, The Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine, Barbaric Yawp, Fjords Review, Health Affairs, and Evening Paper.
You Have to Return if You Want a Story
A boat streaks the bay’s waves
with its wake, unreliable
as breadcrumbs to pilot it back
to port. We learn the way home
from fairytales—how it erases
itself; how first you must wander
toward some sightless witch
in her brittle delicious house.
This is how a story forms:
Once upon a time
a girl went out
like a moonless tide.
And for one strange second
the oven’s bundled embers
beckoned other endings.
Of course she returns home
a heroine—a fact adapted
into fiction, since, if you ask her,
all she’s really done
The house key is bent, but not busted,
purple dragonflies painted on
so my niece thinks it’s pretty, this metal
that needs finessing to get in the door
of yet another short-term rental.
On our walk to the park
she asks to keep it in her pocket.
“Hey, city bird,” she calls to a cardinal.
“Are you the same one from our yard?”
Why not? The bird is familiar enough—
the male streaked in scarlet,
the way his wings beat
at the shrillness of small voices.
She can identify him already,
even at this age, still toddling.
“Look, look—on the ground,”
she points to its dull counterpart.
“She’s the mommy bird;
she’s the ugly one.”