Your Voice in Half-Light

by Nicholas Spengler

At the interior window
you can hear two kinds of birds:
those within cages
and those without.
The former sing all day
over the broken ballads of the street
(if you close your eyes
you’re at the edge of a field)
and the others alight
three or four at a time,
lend their improvisations
to the steady chorus of the caged.

Their song is loudest at dusk
when the uncaged come in dozens,
some urgent message to impart
in the failing light.
Or maybe they’ve built their nests
in the hedges behind the cages,
the way things tend
to gather at boundaries.

I do not live in your city of birds;
you tell me about them
when we speak across blind distance,
night’s eyelid shuttering your home
before mine. For me
it’s the frozen lake at day’s end
when the sun slants behind mountains
and the ice chirps and moans
in the cooling air
some drowned voice
on the other side trying
to be heard.