“Broken Music” by George Garrett

Shall we have yet another poem
about a bird and not just any of them,
but this one, an elegant gray and white
mockingbird, trapped in the house
and desperately trying to find the light
to freedom, hurling himself against
screens and window glass, scattering
himself in little clumps and puffs
of feathers, smashing his hurt body
until it failed and down he fell
to the floor, exhausted, dead or alive?

Very carefully, in cupped hands,
I lift him and take him out into
the backyard where I can throw him
up into the air of a bright spring day
and there he suddenly comes to life
and his wings carry him away
out of my reach and sight.
Thinking: if he lives, what will become
of all that music, those inimitable songs?

Thinking (also) not what kind of an easy
metaphor can be found at the heart of this,
not what kind of broken music on my own
can I make out of an ordinary painful thing;
though since it is Good Friday and I am sick,
wounded, as it were, and as you were,
Lord, sorely tempted I long to follow
that flight to health and freedom.
Praying: lift me in your bloody hands,
Lord, call me now into the sweet air.
Permit my pain to sing your praise.

George Garrett


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