What Dead Birds Sing: a poem

BY JAIME HAN
Contributing Writer

The hum of fluorescent lights. The smell of dirty sheets.

Night is shattered fragments of blue drifting in through the window.

I smile at my reflection in the kitchen sink and my teeth flash like knives.

There is a taste in my mouth I recognize. The taste of glass and dirt.

A nightingale’s song sounds through radio static, a requiem that doesn’t exist.

I trace raindrops down the windowpane with my fingertips

and find a question written in the fogged-up glass instead.

Why must the bird sing lullabies to the dead?

Because that is in the nature of the thing.

What is nature?                                                             

The inevitability of time running out and bodies returning to the land.

An affliction so terrible not even the gods, with all their blessings and prolonging,

could escape unscathed. So, they want like we do, love like we do,

And in the end, they decompose like we do.

Eventually everything returns to the earth

no matter how much they fight it.

The bodies pile up and become part of a perpetually shifting landscape,

All former existence is marked only by the lingering scents on sheets

And the silence born from words left unsaid.

But I find that there are aberrations everywhere.

Last week, a bird flew into a mirror and snapped its neck, mistaking

its reflection for something else. I buried its carcass in the yard,

But in the days afterward, I could hear the fluttering of wings and the tapping

at the windowpane; the last requiem the bird sung followed me everywhere.

What is a ghost?

Something dead that thinks itself alive.

Something of bodies and flowers that lingers long after the land rots

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