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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 23: 28 April 2024
Micro-CNF: 374 words
By Marianne Kipp



This morning, there was a blue puff of feathers in the mulch. A blue bird, feet up, pale blue and white feathers on its belly. It must have flown into the window, thinking it was open. I crouched down with a dustpan, and shimmied the white plastic under the body. It felt like nothing, like lifting crumpled construction paper. “I’m sorry,” I said to the whiff of bird, and carried it through the yard—cold, wet grass on my toes through my sandals. I tipped the dustpan over the fence into the tall, wild grass.

I came upstairs to load my children into the car. They were shivering in the driveway—the mornings are cold now, though it will be eighty degrees by midday. My daughter’s potbelly was wrapped in goose-bumped arms. “Are you cold?” I asked, scooping her up. She tucked her head into my shoulder and wrapped her legs around my torso. Sometimes I call her a koala. Sometimes a barnacle.

“Was it dead,” my son asked me, and I told him yes, it was, and sometimes birds don’t see the glass and fly into windows by mistake. “They just die when they hit the glass?” he asked. Sometimes, I told him. I did not tell him that the bird’s head had smooshed into its body, so you could barely see its head at all, just a bump with a tuft of feathers like the crest on my son’s plastic Parasaurolophus—I did not say out loud that the first thing I thought of when I saw its crunched head was his plastic dinosaur that sits on the side of the bathtub.

“That’s sad,” he said, and sighed loudly. He paused at the side of my car and turned to me. “Blue birds are really beautiful too,” he said, fists at his sides like he had been personally wronged by this casualty. I don’t know if he’s ever seen a blue bird before, or if he just imagined that it would have been beautiful.

It could have been an ominous start to the day, or it meant nothing—like the body itself, barely distinguishable from the weight of the dustpan, slipping into the tall grass like it had never even happened.


—From the author’s Autumn Vignettes series of micro-essays in progress.

Marianne Kipp
Issue 23 (April 2024)

is a Colorado writer with Massachusetts roots. She earned an MFA in Fiction from Colorado State University and has published her work in The Massachusetts Review, the Normal School, and PANK, amongst others.

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