“and even you forgot those brilliant flashes seen from afar” -Ruth Stone

Alison Prine

SOME BIRDS DON’T SING

Or barely. The rasp of a stalled car. Some
have a call and a song.

Alarm. Simple, clear, piercing the air.

The scientists in the media recommend
social distancing. COVID-19 spread
through nearness, wetness, breath.

Deep from the lungs, a song. A cough.
The sun suggests we reveal ourselves
to each other. New fears. Listen.

Most female birds do not sing. Most
scientists do not study the female bird.

The virus is killing more men,
the scientists said.
The male bird sings to say
this place is mine

We hesitate to fly,
to gather, to touch.
Strange loosening as time blocks open,
commitments and obligations
slough away.

Usually our worries are personal,
but this one crawls through one body
and into the next
across a whole planet.

Suddenly we are so human, physical
and not far from one another
even as we learn
new ways to distance.

Vultures and storks can’t sing.

A female cardinal trills her simple song.
She is not red like the male,
but has reddish tinges.

She won’t migrate. I hesitate
to leave the house. I do not
touch another’s face. My own face.

 

 

AUDIO ONLY

we tire of pixelated heads 
I quantify what I believe
can’t travel through the machines
20% I think 
is lost but we are all trying 
to compensate
leaning harder on words
like a second language
I imagine his face 
in the soft blue twilight
I know what he doesn’t
how it feels to speak with a man
I once held as a red-faced infant 
whose cries gripped my chest like a fist
I say I am grateful
he says he is grateful and yet
it doesn’t stem the tide 
uneasy about going 
to his next infusion
it would be good to talk 
about something else
we admit to one another
but we can’t 

 

 

GLOBAL REACH

deer walk carefully toward me
on the border of my lawn
dark eyes locked to mine
in a dream
there was a kind neighbor
a broken fence and a forgiveness

at 8pm last night we went outside
applauded someone rang a bell
someone shouted
clapping my hands together
I felt near tears

I felt near to no one and every one
messages scribbled in chalk
in the crosswalk we give a wide
berth and a sad smile

there is a story I can see
but cannot read feels personal
like my own susceptibility my insomnia
like you dear
washing your hands
til they crack

Appears in this issue
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on tumblr
Alison Prine’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Ploughshares, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Five Points, Harvard Review and Prairie Schooner among others. Read more

Infrequent email notifications