The Nightingale

your birthday brought
a shining gift
a mechanical bird
encrusted with gems
it sang perfect songs
again and again
we played them
till we knew them
by heart

Outside our gate
the nightingale soars
on wing and song
over trees
here then gone
sees lovers twined
in shaded parks
old men in boats
bent to watch fish
shimmer like
children running
falling in streams
calling “Mother!”

The nightingale skims
the everchanging
play of clouds
cool, then warm
wet with rain
light, then dark again

We like boxes,
shining presents
that never age
mechanical birds that
stay in their cage

But the nightingale’s voice
pierced my heart
and beauty and death
are flooding in
like morning sun
like passion’s blood

forgive me love
for I must break
This beautiful
mechanical bird
before you wake

(Based on The Nightingale – Hans Christian Andersen)

Jill Freeman – Vocal, Piano