Prime Number Magazine
is a publication of 
Press 53
PO Box 30314,
Winston-Salem NC 27130
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Issue 101, Oct – Dec 2016
Prime Number Magazine is a publication of Press 53, PO Box 30314, Winston-Salem, NC 27130

Devon Miller-Duggan

Selected by guest poetry editor Hedy Habra

Followed by author biography
I Made Things


It pleased that I was clever with my fingers—
drawings, elaborated eggshells, dolls, an evening gown for my mother—
so when I asked to have the feathers from a pheasant he’d hunted
he said he’d have them plucked for me to sort and use. 

I don’t know how to write about God except to count and sort the ways
I both believe and fail belief. As if I claimed to swim and couldn’t, 
but knew the salts would buoy me up 
long enough to learn

Our car had hit a pheasant once. My father got out calmly, twisted its head
and body in different directions and explained the nature of kindness to me. 
His hands were beautiful and skilled. 
I’d thought I was the only thing he’d hurt.

I’d thought I’d get the feathers in a bag—an airy mass of flight and color. 
Instead, the man who dressed his birds sent the whole skin
for me to pluck. I sorted every kind of feather into small bags. 
The skin was supple in my hands. 

My father knew I loathed his hunting. I liked that he knew. 
I had things to make that wanted feathers. 
He said he’d told the man to pluck the bird. 
I don’t recall it stank. He thought I’d chicken out. 

One pheasant, if you take care, gives up feathers enough
for fifty years of making small things to give away.
I don’t know how to speak of flight, except to count and sort the ways
I both loved and tore the bird. 

Devon Miller-Duggan teaches for the Department of English at the University of Delaware. Her first book, Pinning the Bird to the Wall, appeared from Tres Chicas Books in 2008.