The boy in the rhyme is swallowing
blackbirds. He takes them, whole,
stuffs them down in great gulps
the unclean feathers, sharp
They slip down his esophagus,
these dark thrushes, and flutter
about his ribs as though
songbirds. They coo and whisper to his lungs
and his small, stony heart.
They nest in this skinny prison which
cannot contain them.
They will burst forth from his mouth, pinions ripping
tonsils and past his tongue when he speaks.
But for now the boy is sated,
bloated and feels he will need to eat, or speak
for weeks. He struggles up, many-souled.
He is going to try to fly.