The Sentence

Kristen Skedgell

Your Honor, before you stands accused

one who freely admits she killed the bird,


tears trailing that first day of kindergarten

mother pushing her towards the Apron


who hugged her, told her not to cry, 

promised Mommy would be back soon.


But, you see, Your Honor, it was not Mother 

this child desired for she never possessed her.


It was the deceased here.  See Exhibit A – 

its stiff blue and white wings, soft feathers 


once stroked, and yellow beak that ate 

seed from her palm. She wished only to kiss 


his downy head before parting but outside, 

car horn honking, angry mother shouting.


Your Honor, in a panic, our child grabbed 

for Pretty Boy’s cage and reached inside, 


fingers like sharp prongs clawing, grasping.  

Shrieking erupted, tinkling bells slapped 


against the bars of the cage, wings like 

unhinged propellers hurtled against preening


mirror, crashed to newsprint below, cuttlebone 

dislodged and sandpaper on perch displaced.  


See Exhibit B.  And when she finally seized him, 

she squeezed him with all her might and cried, 


Pretty Boy, oh, Pretty Boy, I’m leaving,

  Pretty Boy. I love you, Pretty Boy. 


and his tiny head flopped onto her thumb, 

his black eyes froze and car horn honked, 


Mother shouted, and the child laid down Pretty Boy 

as she realized in horror what she had done.


I beseech Your Honor, have mercy 

on the child, guilty though she is. 


Commute the sentence she gives 

herself.  Teach her to let go.


Kristen Skedgell is a playwright, poet and author of Losing the Way: A Memoir of Spiritual Longing, Manipulation, Abuse and Escape. A retired social worker, she lives in the Hudson Valley with her husband, hound dog and Monkee the cat. She finds Mother’s Day very complicated.