Birds That Sing at Night
The train moves sluggishly at dusk, pulling the tombstones and graveyard trees that hide secrets of skeletons inside. Poisonous yews planted in couples, arched cypresses, a chestnut trunk at the gate, and another one near the church’s door talk of fires, falls, road accidents, strokes, cancers, dementias, addictions, suicides, homicides, happy as can be and born to be unhappy, a finite life span and too young to die. I don’t feel like moving but the train drags me along, my thoughts drifting off to a place where trees are cut down randomly – a crime which deserves to be punished by the gallows. There’s a lonely blackbird on a wire, twitching its tail down, and another one, sitting across from me, a fidgety tawny-feathered robin poking holes through the tights with her blue fingers and brittle nails.
How do you kill a bird that feeds on your perpetually regenerating tears? – the girl catches me off-guard.
I’m looking out of the window, pretending I haven’t heard her. I wouldn’t know how to answer anyway.
It’s a sin to kill a mockingbird, though. Maybe you become one – she proceeds – letting out a cry that would break age-long silence.
She strikes me as a "no carbs, no sugars" kind of girl, pushing food around on the plate, and shaking her head – No, thank you. I’ve already eaten.
Have you wondered how birds sit on high-voltage power lines without getting electrocuted? – she stretches out her arms as if to embrace the air. Because they do stuff we can’t and go places we’re not allowed to.
How do you wish to be buried? – I ask, tapping the window with my finger.
She doesn’t seem to be surprised by the question. Not in a coffin. I’m claustrophobic. Besides, I don’t want gravestones and crosses.
If you want to be with birds, you’ll need to learn to sing at night too – I say reassuringly. I’d like to have a tree planted on top of me. I imagine hundreds of oak trees in my cemetery. Then try tearing up the whole forest – I mutter under my breath.
One day we’ll run out of land to bury people in.
I guess we’ll have to stack them on top of each other.
Her wide smile reveals braces. She’s even prettier than I thought.
NEXT STOP, GIESING. PLEASE EXIT TRAIN ON THE RIGHT. I feel a twinge in the pit of my stomach as the automated announcement is heard and the train screeches to a halt.
The girl finally picks up the ringing cell. Hey mom – she chirrups. I’m fine. I didn’t hear the phone. Bites her upper lip. I said I’m fine – she barks like a chained-up dog. Mom? Stands up. Nothing…er…I won’t be back for dinner. Don’t wait up for me, ok?
She looks me in the eye, shrugs, presses the button to open the door and exits left.
Birds are landing on power lines and rooftops, dozens of birds in the trees, facing upwards. The stars are falling with flame-coloured feathers from the evening sky.
Bojana Stojcic teaches, bitches, writes, bites and tries to breathe in between. Her poems and flash pieces are published or forthcoming in Rust + Moth, Anti-Heroin Chic, Barren Magazine, The Opiate, Burning House Press, The Blue Nib, Down in the Dirt, Mojave Heart Review, Dodging the Rain, Foxglove Journal, Spillwords, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Visual Verse, and elsewhere. She blogs regularly at Coffee and Confessions to Go.
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