Nightingale & Firebird

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

As if the song encoded in the wheel could railroad
to the garden, the mechanical grind transformed

the nightingale to music-box, the music to evergreen
vistas. The firebird was another story: inventory

of dust on the wings. Dried blood on the red-gold
coat. One thread about tin substitutes for splendor,

the other a ghost-image for your burdened heart.
Easy to confuse the black chinoiserie with feathers

torn from ashes, twin halves for a childhood fear:
you were never loved. You could surrender

to the hammer or the flame but no one would come.
That which they called wonder was only a greased key

in a courtesan’s palm, and when the bird sang, no one
heard the sound a wing makes when the current breaks.

© Karen Rigby, Chinoiserie (Ahsahta Press, 2012)