Poems by Courtney Hitson

“Eurasian Magpies”
             By Courtney Hitson

They perch on the rim of the Acropolis, watching
archeologists shoo cats from the dig. The interiors
of their talons braid marble and sun and birdsongs
into a density I can’t measure.

Do pasts, uncollected into histories, exist
any less than our own?

Like neanderthals did, magpies develop
episodic memories, each day adding
another piece of themselves
to inhabit. The teal of their partner
growing heavier all the time.

Consider the wings we’re born without,
how each flight changes us in ways
too robust to name.

“Trying to understand octopuses”
             By Courtney Hitson

My flashlight, an evolved eye, glares
open a dawn and everyone—lobsters and crabs,
shrimp and eels—search for dusk. Except her: Floating
brain fissured into eight arms that know
how to know. When I spot one,
a launchpad between my ribs begins
to bustle, as if the creature’s blues and purples
wandered from my own heart. Like a child
awed at lightning, she stares with a longing, superfluous
to her survival. Sometimes, one will stretch
a tentacle—parade of fiendish thimbles—to my arm
and the countdown begins, walking us back
to the place we share.

See, octopuses need poetry
because the uncharted biologies,
of their intricacies are likely as infinite,
as our own. We may have to confront
a steepness in their souls, their skin
divvied into three, busy palettes
of dermises that conjure vastitudes  
of murals. We’ll likely never see
the pores comprising even each other’s
underbellies, let alone comprehend
the immaterial architecture
made possible by three hearts.

“I’m unsure how to swallow the ugly”
By Courtney Hitson

ball of worms in my throat that awakens
when a volunteer at the sanctuary opens
her take-out of fillet sandwiches. I want to understand
a behavior that these very good Samaritans don’t
summon the will to confront. Souls aren’t
interchangeable of course, but surely
pesos convert to some amount
in euros, right? We know a self’s origins
fail to empty its contents. So
much of you, ma’am, wants to soothe,
is desperate to stop-up what suffering
you can and I know that will
wields enough hutzpah to portion
mealworms into the gullet
of a baby mockingbird every fifteen minutes
for nights on end. Don’t you deserve
to honor your goodness
even more? Don’t you deserve release
from this pen made inescapable
by incongruous bars?

Courtney Hitson holds an MFA in poetry from Columbia College Chicago and currently teaches English at the College of the Florida Keys. Her poems have appeared in numerous literary journals including DMQ Review, Wisconsin Review, Women Arts Quarterly Journal, and Route 7 Review. She just completed a chapbook, A Study of Souls, each poem working to explore an individual animal.

Copyright©2024 by Courtney Hitson. All Rights Reserved.