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Anastasia Vassos

Anastasia Vassos is the author of Nostos (Kelsay Books, 2023) and Nike Adjusting Her Sandal (Nixes Mate, 2021). Nostos was named a finalist in Two Sylvias’ and Headlight Review’s Chapbook Contests. Her poems can be found in Thrush, SWWIM, RHINO, Whale Road Review, Lily Poetry Review and elsewhere. Her poem Architecture of Anatomy was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She speaks three languages, rides her bike and lives in Boston.


     after Stanley Kunitz

The rain started up again
yesterday afternoon
in the half-light
a sparrow stuck in my birdhouse
the hole just above the perch
cinching his feathery middle half-in, half-out
wings fanned, slapping wildly the front of his tiny prison.
I folded the trembling ball of feathers into my palm
and whispered
to the small thing, to calm—
because I understand something
about panic—
and gently tugged—
stuck somehow in the nest’s debris.
I began ripping
that tense construction
feather by twig by straw
so compactly woven
it now lay three times its size
on newspaper I had set down
and as I worked to release—
there, the poor sparrow’s limb
was stretched from the strain
of pulling, I guess—
it didn’t bend like the other leg—
his tiny claw tangled in the refuge and refuse
that three sparrow families
nested and escaped this year.
I unhooked his needled grasp
and opened my palm—
he darted to the rhododendron’s clutch, and shuddered there—

This morning, I write in the silent room
before daybreak, wind pulsing the windows
my husband still asleep,
the sparrow gone.
The first time was years ago—
a bat got stuck between Molly’s screen
and front door.
She was laughing, screaming all at once.
I donned a thick glove and crossed the street
to save something.
I felt the little bat-heart quivering—
straining, those wings
in my hand, my own heart pounding
as it is now—
before I let it go
before I set it free.


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