Kaela McNeil

Mother Makes a Crow Skull Mask 

I gathered the feathers of you when the air was gigantic and made of plague. There was a basket I left somewhere that I used for carrying my excess, my little baby bird bones that I could not hold. I had nothing to bring you home with. The basket I left had no handle or bottom but was an empty tomb inside my chest and a book on leather making, which was not really a book but a record of my grief. The language on the pages gives me a place to chisel your names, my little crows. So, I gathered all the feathers when the air was gigantic and made of plague, and with my hands I placed them on my face. A mask, my baby birds, a roost I made to carry you.


Kaela McNeil has won the Roy F. Powell Creative Writing Award in Poetry and has been nominated for an Independent Best American Poetry award. Her poems appear in NonBinary Review, Anthropoid, and elsewhere. McNeil received her MFA in Poetry from Lesley University and has interned for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. A Georgia native, she now lives in the Witch City with her fiance and daughter. Follow her on instagram @kaela.mcneil