You Also, Nightingale

Petrarch dreams of pebbles
on the tongue, he loves me
at a distance, black polished stone
skipping the lake that swallows

worn-down words, a kind of drown
and drench and quench and very kind
to what I would've said. Light marries
water and what else (unfit

for drinking purposes), light lavishes
my skin on intermittent sun. (I am weather
and unreasonable, out of all
season.  Petrarch loves my lies

of laurel leaves, ripped sprigs of
deciduous evergreen.) A creek is lying
in my cement-walled bed, slurring
through the center of small

town; the current's brown and
turbid (muddy, turbulent
with recent torrents), silt rushing
toward the reservoir. A Sonata

passes by too close (I have to jump)
and yes I do hear music here. It's blue, or
turquoise, aquamarine, some synonym
on wheels, note down that note. It's Petrarch

singing with his back to me (delivering
himself to voice), his fingers
filled with jonquil, daffodils, mistaken
narcissus. (I surprised him

between the pages of a book,
looked up the flowers I misnamed.)
Forsythia and magnolia bring me
spring, when he walks into the house

he has wings. Song is a temporary thing
(attempt), he wants to own his music.

Reginald Shepherd, "You Also, Nightingale" from Fata Morgana. Copyright © 2007 by Reginald Shepherd. Reprinted by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.
Source: Fata Morgana (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007)
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