Birdsong and the Old Night

by David J. Rothman

Just before the dawn the songbirds sing
As if they are so happy to be alive,
Mused some idiot who didn’t know anything
About how little birds survive.

It had been raining and blowing hard all night.
The courtyard chestnut creaked before the wind.
Inside, there was bourbon.  There was a fight.
We all made up, the crowd thinned.

Now the fingers of another dawn
Revealed familiar faces, enterprises.
We had pretended the past was done and gone,
Defeated by deals, by compromises.

Soon the sky was clear and crisp and blue
And we could smell the sea breeze flowing in,
Making the city sparkle as if new,
Subtle as a bulletin.

Still it was good, a moment in which a man
Might come to accept, or begin to understand
Something, in the way a cat inscrutably can
Understand or not understand

The wellworn coin of mortal landscapes
And an apartment’s overstuffed ashtrays,
Smeared glasses, song, and laughter, flickering out.