How the Nightingales Lost Their Hands


I was going to tell you the story of a friend who died, but he was not my friend. He wanted to write it in such a way that the grief was your own, your hand wiping his forehead with the soiled handkerchief, your tears the real ones.


He was terrified the lost message was not truly lost, a nightmare refusing to fade at the moment of waking. It was as if he had become human.


You were telling him a story about how the nightingales lost their hands. You said, peace is only the silence between statues. I said, no, peace is the flag of surrender, the place where they buried their dead.


It’s not fair to say he found them. You always knew what they were hiding, but you had to let someone else say it. Quite dirty, but you could see through.


The open windows, bright as oblivion. There was nothing more to cry about. He was going to tell you the story of the day I lost my voice. I felt no grief, because the nightmare ended.


It was as if you had died, your humanity the real one. There was nothing more to write about. I wanted to hold him, but I found I had no hands.


 HIV Here & Now (7 June 2015); Poetic Diversity (April 2013).