I must scream for a while
thoughts welding to a body escaping the quiet.
And then, she said, but have you imagined
the sound of birds.
And then, I said, sometimes.
She said, well, there used to be 3 billion
more, that is the quiet.
What propagates in silence?
What emerges, creeping up on walls
hidden behind door knobs? Without
noise, maggots grow on brain crust
antidote squawked away, escape.
Background noise now radiating
from bright light deafening
the silence exchanging silent.
And then, she said, both of us, as humans,
can scream outside between
mountains to replace the fowl.
two of my friends send me a tweet of a picture of a rose finch, with
the captions “you” and “this is you as a bird lol.” a pink small cute
thing. i look up a video of their bird sound. 1 minute and 47 seconds.
a small giggle of a song. “but i see myself as a hawk-ish sort of bird” i
write. “lmao it is simply inarguably you.”
i’m convincing my brother over facetime to not do something stupid.
my voice pleads. i hear a hawkish sort of noise. i’m on a walk. crane
my neck. circle back. “sorry… wait… did you hear that too?”
i wake up to the noise of squawking… wailing… right outside my
window. a duck folding into its own voice. song becoming tremor. i
check my phone 5:50am. 40 messages in the family chat. “please
come back!” and a video of the news. “where are you? please come
remember to feed the blue jays in the backyard. whenever i forget i
hear their wail from atop the metal fence. i’m almost out of birdseed.
throw whatever is left in a sheepish handful. i fumble with my phone,
type on my notes birdseed eggs yogurt…
i hear the koyal in the background of the voicenote my friend sends
me. cuckoo bird, like a sweet rooster. nostalgic. i hear her say, “i’m
tired of living in delhi” and i remember i am tired too.
the poems were there—
and then I wasn’t.
slipping over wet syllables and
tumbling to where neon signs
live in the blood cells of its inhabitants
the words chasing me up my back
and then again with the seasons.
I don’t write rust
or marble floors.
I don’t write six and a half meters of cloth
or a caterpillar in a glass jar.
I kiss live wires and read
those poems I cannot write.
the only kind of light I like is dirty
the only kind of sun I like is looming
the only kind of air I like is dust
the haunted living peer behind my pillow—
while the dead comfort me.
I scoop the tens of ants from
the colony under my feet
place them on a page
they skirt in fear and die where they should
a smattering of poetry—
chanting the name of the divine.
Jasveen Kaur S. is a poet, teacher, and current MFA candidate at Rutgers University. She spends a lot of her time frightened about time— oh, how terrifying it is!