Isobel Miles

The Nightingale

My son’s been studying archaic terms
and came across a strange one – nightingale.
I guessed it was the wind at night,
up there in what they used to call the countryside.
I love old words.

But when we googled it
we found that it was what was called a bird,
and what it mostly did was called a song.
We googled song and bird and found
a bird was something like a drone, but made of flesh.
The last ones perished in the firestorm years.

A song turned out to be a sound birds made,
but also had a second meaning,
was a kind of hollering we used to do ourselves,
before the Cloud discovered music
and taught us how to hear.

And so a nightingale was just
a little flying thing that made a noise.
Still, it’s a pretty word.
My son found it, and other antique words,
buried in what they used to call a poem.

The words themselves are curious, but
the whole is clumsy and inept,
a bit like hollering.
Perhaps such poems were the best they had
before the Cloud discovered poetry for itself
and taught us meaning, beauty, truth.
The old world must have been so limited.