The Songbird

The poem below was written in my early 20s.

Illustration by Alex Cherry

The Songbird

Each dawn until the dew of night, a songbird sought in futile flight for love, on urge of instinct fain, an ardent interest to obtain. She carried on, and through the sky, she wove her schmaltzy waltz: (the dance bequeathed to each of us), for love was all she sought. But despite her graceful fluency, and poised plein-air proficiency, despite her every effort spun, she piqued only effrontery.

Through heedless trees she trooped--toute seule--she tirelessly finned, trailing behind a trilling tale: the tune she danced within.

Downhearted was her heart of down, alighting dusk always alone. Until one sleep, when time did come to tuck and rest her winsome beck into her breast, she dreamed a scheme to glean a gleam, a grasp—-a test!

When petals part their furrowed mouths to yawn the come of dawn,

through gilded blue our songbird flew renewed, refilled with guile to dance on--

--in silence now! So was her ruse. The songbird mute her song.

Her elegance, as ever was, unswerving in her sway, for once swept up this silent day, an unexpected serenade! Yes, at once

her courtship grew, from five, to ten, to twenty-two.

Aghast she fled in indignation, to starve of thought the implication! But brighter than the blue she steered, a streak of fear, the truth

about her song shone clear. Her dance, although divinely lithe, was uglified. She could not deny, her song was a squeal; damnation rung in every peal.

Now breathless on a beech’s branch, the songbird fraught with dissonance, burst out a bawl, a bleary call, she shout the shout of blighted all! A brute and brittle bellow, the brunt of which did burn her throat, she swallowed hard the bitter pill of what she heard and spoke: “I chatter! I squall! I spatter!” she croaked, and wallowed as she warbled.

The quiet broken by such shrills, and she with discomposure, she now tore wild in desperate will, denuding deft her body of its quills. Until bereft of feathers, unfettered still, the songbird saw in swirls and swills her visage lost in downy dross that sloshed within that water she wept. One final, woeful bellow, she mustered up to purge. She plunged into the pond below, with howling hollow--an ailing sorrow--the songbird wailed,

“I am a crow.”