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His mother told him not to harm the birds.
Her words went in one ear and out the next.
He pulled the slingshot taut, watched the stone fly.
It struck the bird which made the strangest sound.
Not that it was strange, but odd for a bird.
For he had heard that scream from his mother
when she entertained a lover at night.
His friend told him to leave the bird alone,
but he ignored him and carried it home.
Cooked it, ate, and then fell into a dream.
The bird appeared, spoke with his mother’s voice,
“Hard-ears pickney, why you never listen?”
Her words struck his heart like a stone. He wept,
and it was a strange sound, like a bird’s cry.

Nadine Tomlinson is an emerging speculative writer from Jamaica. She draws inspiration from folklore and spirituality in the Caribbean and the Americas. Her pieces have been published in adda, Lightspeed Magazine, Grist, and other places. Website:
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4 Dec 2023

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