NONFICTION July 5, 2024


In the middle of a too-large city where homes pile on top of each other and tree roots crack cement sidewalks to grow, we had a small yard with a young jaboticaba tree that refused to be seasonal. The tree offered up berries year-round in a low, generous canopy under which my son took his first steps, kicked his first ball, and spent hours swinging foam swords at monsters only he could see.

We eventually moved oceans away to a yardless home in a rural town sprinkled with sprawling California oaks where nobody had ever heard of the black-marbled berries that are as round and sweet as my son’s eyes.

In third grade, he made me a Valentine’s Day card with a black blob, an orange-humped beak, and the letters “R.I.P.”

I laughed as I taped it to the refrigerator.

Why are you laughing? It isn’t funny. It’s our bird.

Once, while dragon-hunting under the jaboticaba, my son had found a bird with a broken beak nestled against the tree’s trunk. We did what we could, but, in the end, the most important thing we could do was dig a hole among roots, wrap the bird in linen, and cover it with soil so saturated with fallen fruit that it stuck like jelly to the soles of our feet.

It had been six years. More than half of my son’s short life.

I drew it for Valentine’s because it’s something we loved, and we shouldn’t forget.

Amy Marques has been known to call books friends and has visual art, poetry, and prose published in journals such as Streetcake Magazine, South Florida Poetry Journal, Fictive Dream, Bending Genres, Ghost Parachute, Chicago Quarterly Review, and Gone Lawn. She is the editor and visual artist for the Duets anthology and has an erasure poetry book coming out with Full Mood Publishing. More at
Social Media: @amybookwhisper1