Zealous at long rehearsals, tenacious at audition— the brushed
yellow-olive, drab-coated vireo hangs upside down then
exits the tree with a prize: red berry or dun kernel, blur of
winged insect disappearing down the hatch of its throat.
Valediction isn’t its song: not a saying farewell, not the
up-swelling notes of a soprano— just the same
tremulous question and answer all through the day.
Sound shivers like a string when plucked. I learned
rote-singing, then followed the pencil across the staff:
quarter-notes, eighths, sixteenths; the rests like little
puffs of breath propelling onward. And yes it’s work,
opening the chest to let the air of longing out for that
nimbus of release, though brief and incommensurate.
My audible heart wants a nest like a cup in the fork of a tree.
Lit up at night, in that forest of softened trills, who
knows how the air might shear its stuttering refrains,
join the failed parts of songs as leitmotif?
I practice and practice though nobody hears.
Hoarse from effort and nearly at empty, I
gloss sometimes over difficult parts that
find a way of coming back, sliding into another
edge of passage. Nothing ever stays still:
do you see how the moon shimmers, then
clears a path for the screech owl’s call?
Bright, brassy, or somber rounding in the mouth—
answer that burns salt shapes on the tongue.
In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.