Jim Henle: nightbird

it is three forty in the morning and a robin has begun to sing
I can hear it over the whirring of the fan I use
to soften the sound of trains and traffic
I can hear the robin singing nearby in the dark
or in what darkness there is in the city where it is never quite dark
and one is never quite alone and I am waiting outside the door
of my once therapist’s office where there was a white noise box
only it was not gentle like this fan it had a hard gargle
like a geiger counter at a radium dial
and over the gauzy roar I could hear the sobbing
and keening and shrill complaints of the patient
who preceded me a fellow sufferer like the robin
who sings to no one at an early hour
unexpectedly in the dark
and there was some kind of extraordinary
silence inside that office that did not come from me
and did not reach into my whirring mind but I felt it there
and I think it was the afterglow of the other patient’s
outpouring a woman whom I never saw except
her stylish shoes since I kept my eyes
averted in a magazine when she would slip out
through the waiting room under the sound shroud
of the noise box and the unseen robin has stopped singing
and in the morning I may see its apricot swell out the window
but now my mind is still whittling the stick of itself down

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