DOES A CITY HAVE A NIGHTINGALE
“Have you wondered why all the windows in heaven were broken?
Have you seen the homeless in the grave of God’s hand?
Do you want to acquaint the larks with the fatuous music of war?”
Does a city have a nightingale, oh I want to hear it So weary of my skin, I mask-creep
out one briefest line of air where dusk falls hard on the flowering peach, no bone broken
no one tongues my skin or high—
or suddenly a rubbish mound its filthy blanket or only his man eyes, panther eyes, roofless
at my feet, only his bones, only dusk, only a grave not a grave only a hand, how can he be
on the street tonight while the unmasked walk, or who will gather him in?
This is for real this is for real this is for real a man stammers his hand shakes and his phone
shakes recording Brooklyn hospital’s loading zone the picture is clear enough men in white
loading an 18 wheeler refrigerated—no-room-for-more white truck—this is for real this is
for real this is for real he bleats and repeats what else will tell it it’s 10:29 Sunday morning
he says and this is for real this is for real — y’all stay home! stay inside! this is for real this is
for real until his phone drops and his voice stops watching the ice truck close its cargo in —
Have you ever seen the grave of God’s hand my locked friend says yes I say I have I
know I have and no I cannot hear the nightingale
THERE WILL. WE WILL. THEN.
“Locust crisis poses a danger to millions, forecasters warn—”
The Guardian/March 20, 2020
Soiled—here—white origami cranes, linked and strung three times around an oldest Ginko tree
for memory. Of Hiroshima’s birds and children. Not here. But there. That was another equinox.
The one that came in the fall. Here, it might have become spring. Its promise. They say do not
speak of it. Do not say that there are locusts. Or that your walls are fever tight as a size 6 dress
when your breasts are growing into sassy women. Do not say you fear the sun, or hands. Watch
the blood geraniums. They may not enter your room because the window is afraid of the rasp of
pestilence. Its fire. That its vow will not bring spring, but rather hoods, blocked breath, dead.
Hold your black cat like a lover. He is not your lover. Your lover may not enter. But bow to
yesterday’s ash because its grief was there to read. Bow to crows. Will they dive into a highest
nest to devour its infant starlings. Your neighbors watch, their tongues darting like flies.
How to save a bird-ling or a world? How to save a springtime? Prisoned for our own sakes—we
cry, we are not allowed to leave our rooms. One banal visiting pigeon lands, climbs the not yet
budded vine that scales our courtyard walls. A pigeon. An observer. Not a savior. But it must be dawn. It must be this day’s Equinox that will balance daylight and night, this time—. It’s promised.
They say do not speak of it. Do not jinx it. We will speak of it. Even of locusts.
And there will be breath. There will. We will. Then.
Margo Berdeshevsky, born in New York City, often lives and writes in Paris. Her latest poetry collection, "Before The Drought," is from Glass Lyre Press. In an early version, it was a finalist for the National Poetry Series. A new poetry collection, "It Is Still Beautiful To Hear The Heart Beat" is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry. A hybrid book, "Kneel Said the Night" waits at the gate. Berdeshevsky is author as well of "Between Soul & Stone," and "But a Passage in Wilderness," (Sheep Meadow Press.) Her book of illustrated stories, "Beautiful Soon Enough," received the first Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Award for Fiction Collective Two (University of Alabama Press.) Other honors include the Robert H. Winner Award from the Poetry Society of America. Her works appear in Poetry International, New Letters, Kenyon Review, Plume, The Collagist, Tupelo Quarterly, Gulf Coast, Southern Humanities Review, Pleiades, Prairie Schooner, The American Journal of Poetry, Jacar—One, Mānoa, Pirene’s Fountain, Big Other, Dark matter: Women Witnessing, among many others. In Europe and the UK her works have been seen in The Poetry Review, PN Review, The Wolf, Europe, Siècle 21, Confluences Poétiques, Recours au Poème, Levure Littéraire, Under the Radar. She may be found reading from her books in London, Paris, New York City, Los Angeles, Honolulu, at literary festivals, and/or somewhere new in the world. Her “Letters from Paris” may be found in Poetry International, here: https://poetryinternationalonline.com/category/letters/letters-from-paris/… For more information, kindly see here : http://margoberdeshevsky.com