Poem in Which We Journey Through the Brain of a Nightingale

In practice this nightingale’s words swerve, herded into home video
air-stuffled foreground wall sound, the wind that wears at altitude
the aural cavities of avian hearing in peace from the birch
where peace is an adverb of weatherfront heard while circling
the circuit of hand-me-down hunting grounds, microscoping
the Medway-soaked plantain for what itches in the ultraviolet,
signals aeronautic, arcs synaptic across the hindbrain, midbrain,
forebrain, hover-held, a fulgurite voice-print following-fit phrase
memorised in the buffered bee-mind reckoning the rote intones
the thatch calyx of nest and the skull-vaulted song in air sacs
stacks the socketing of gases that surge-electric, sublate,
regulated by the lungs, the heart, the stomach, the stomach,
heart and lungs, the carrier wave of pulse is gyroscopic
through curves, curves of the skin-thick crown coast-magnetic,
less dead cert, but surfs a gut feeling for North, Norfolk, Shaker’s Wood,
next crests hemispheres, never blackening out, dips to pitch and downs
the tent of its wings, falls with the grain of the wind, a skiff skirting
the transparent cerebella of high canopies, weighing sail-search with why,
whichever perch works to see what kill comes if it comes to kill first
and shudders bursts of nerved stuttering, the head
saccading for the sake of the eye, the sinuses hum
in syrinx territory calls chiaroscoro, resonant, stridulating
lift ululatations, Senegambian, the wind changes —
you hear it; the nightingale, a female singing in nervous laughter,
a musical birthday card addressed to the dead,
a holiday-maker’s car alarm – loud and long and penetrating
and worrying between wanting attention and warning,
breaking off into an uneasy peace.

Harry Man

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