The nuns kept birds
and, by necessity,
kept it from the diocese. 

The nuns kept chaste,
but kept birds against the loneliness
because symbolic husbands never come home.

I live in the nuns' quarters,
now renovated with appliances and art on the walls,
but still silent at sundown.

I know what a calling is,
and for that I am as quaint as a rare sparrow.
Is there even such a thing?

Mornings, I think about you,
but I keep it to myself; only my body knows the lie
I tell, by my silence, my hymn unsung.

My love, you are a birdkeeper.
You've sent me a picture, and your face is the air;
before I can think, my arms open,

knowing more by instinct than any censure can deny.

for Real Toads birds challenge


hedgewitch said…
Just a thing of beauty, from first to last. You mix the (reputed) serenity of the nunnery with the bird-loud cloister of the heart, and the song is pure and sweet and sharp as a tear at midnight. I especially love the 'rare sparrow,' and this line, which I can't help but quote:
"...You've sent me a picture, and your face is the air.."
Unknown said…
How does one begin to comment on something as amazing as this?
Sherry Blue Sky said…
"My hymn unsung"........"my love, you are a birdkeeper"....and those arms opening. You're killing me here. Just gorgeous. Poignant to the point of pain, a good thing in a poem.
Outlawyer said…
Beautifully simple and complex at once. Thanks. k.
Stacie Eirich said…
I think reading this poem made me feel broken yet held at the same the small bird kept, the still silence of a "hymn unsung" -- both pain and love in the same space here. To end with arms open seems a respite from pain and a gentle giving of oneself to love - a breath exhaled. Not a song, but perhaps sounds, notes..beginnings. Thanks for sharing.
Mama Zen said…
This feels dusty and ethereal. Can there be such a thing? A very rare and delicate beauty, Shay.
Sioux Roslawski said…
I love this, but especially the "still silent at sundown" line, as well as how the last line stands on its own and yet is joined to the last stanza.
Gorgeous. It reminds me a bit of Plath – not her anguish, but her assured use of language, and something in the tone.
Hannah said…
Love what you say of sparrows and the hymn unsung...some of our longings never finding words...sigh. Beautiful poem, Shay.
Gillena Cox said…
Your "unsung hymn" of Verse Five resonates a silent heart through our the entire poem. Silenced i believe in response to what a calling wants

This is just splendid

My response was late; read it

much love...

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