Nightingale is

by Harry Man

Nightingale is

Between 1995 and 2009, the British Nightingale population decreased by 57%.

At the current rate of decline, within 15 years the British Nightingale will be extinct.


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 the peace from the birch

where wash is a verb 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 feeling for North, Norfolk, Shaker’s Wood,

next crests hemispheres, never blackening out, dips to pitch, 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, chiaroscuro, 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