The Unconservatory  


—for Katie Ketchum

The song of the nightingale comes in
shimmering in a bright soprano voice
as if having lived knowing the belly sounds.

The first few phrases are like that,
clear-crisp, like bells over snowfields—
Not only are we observing the nightingale,
we are testing the air with wings.

The way the nightingale flies,
how we view the bird,
how it views itself: like a concerto—
A cadenza of towering lines.

The melody drops out
and the deeper rhythm comes in—
The heart of the bird.

Think of how snowy peaks mirror the sky,
purifying the foothills.
The multitudes of foothills
& the song of the nightingale are one.

How the dancer contracts, lifts up—
defies gravity for a moment. Fermatta
Slatted light falls
                             into the eyes of the sun.

I believe, I believe said the bird migrating to Africa
where feathered black notes dress the snows of Killimanjaro.

We flurry over the arpeggio of leaves
to the night itself singing solo:
a concentration of notes on the upper spectrum.

Without legs, the piano won’t resonate
or nest in the branches to lay small eggs.
Hatching in our ears, the harp’s children
direct us to the songlines; her voice,
an undercurrent of grace notes and rippling water.

A leaf caught in the wind
takes instruction from the flight of angels.

Please note: The following selection is a copyrighted work and may only be downloaded for personal use. It may not be sold, licensed or otherwise commercially used without the express written consent of the copyright holder. This selection is being offered free of charge to the Internet community with the hope that interest and support will be generated in the artists' works.

Download a musical excerpt from Katie: The Nightingale (mp3 format).

Return to Elemental Portraits: Nocturnes for Two Pianos (the poetry)

Return to Poetry

Return to Home

Disclaimer, Copyright Statement and Editorial Policies

For inquiries email:

Updated: January 25, 2001 (KB)

Copyright 2001 The Unconservatory, All Rights Reserved.