My mother’s always been a nightingale
eleisons soaring from her catholic lips
although her wings were roughly clipped
like branches in a sprouting apple tree.
It was her gardener whose rigid faith
in God was just as strong as in himself.
He knew what he expected of himself
and sacrificed the godly nightingale
on altars of his misplaced Roman faith.
Still she found freedom pouring from her lips
high in the branches of her fancy’s tree,
she could sing, her puppet strings were clipped.
Her heart was free, as if he’d never clipped
those quills to keep her solely to himself.
While for her children she was maple tree
she praised the Lord of man and nightingales
who gave her freedom flowing from kind lips
and strength when weakness all but broke her faith.
My mother’s never wavered, as she faith-
fully made sure that no-one ever clipped
her daughters’ wings. So when she kissed our lips
and buttoned our clothes she’d made herself,
with tears and heartstrings of a nightingale
we knew, she’d push us off the family tree.
Today, there is no orchard, gone the trees,
just ashes, embers of the fossil faith,
a ghost of her, the only nightingale
he’s ever known to soar, although he’d clipped
her feathers with the rosary beads himself,
Hail-Maries streaming from his withered lips.
As night now slowly calms those foolish lips
and darkness puddles down the apple tree;
the window shows an image of himself:
wrapping virgin after virgin in the silks of faith,
he mourns each feather that he ever clipped
from joyous wings of gracious nightingales.
His lips attend the tiny orbs of faith
as high in trees – translucent wings unclipped –
his self is soaring in the nightly gales.
© Beatrix Brockman