Sometimes birds got caught up by the baler. Those sharp, hooked teeth drew them into the chute and crushed them. My numbed hands would brush their wings and their blood would seep into my rope-burns. I tried not to think about it. After my shift, I’d lave brown water from the pump and soap myself up to my thin forearms, and I tried not to think about stopped songs or yellow beaks snapped in two, revealing flat and pale tongues. Distraction was deadly; I knew a girl my age who daydreamed — like I did — but her timing was wrong. Her shoe got caught in a trailing chain. She was pulled under the flatbed truck we piled the bales on. Her ankle bone gleamed white through the red lips of the wound. After a while, she lost the foot. I tried not to think about her screaming, how it sounded like mangled song.
Bethany W Pope is an award-winning writer who has published several collections of poetry: A Radiance (Cultured Llama, 2012) Crown of Thorns, (Oneiros Books, 2013), The Gospel of Flies (Writing Knights Press 2014), and Undisturbed Circles (Lapwing, 2014). Her collection The Rag and Boneyard was published this year by Indigo Dreams and her chapbook Among The White Roots was released by Three Drops Press last autumn. Her next collection, Silage, shall be released by Indigo Dreams this year. Her first novel, Masque, was published by Seren last June.