Catbird

Another thick book of testimonies—
I knew I could not remember them all.
It was as though the survivors
were moving past me in a line,
& I were choosing among them:
that way to oblivion, this way
into a poem with my rhythmic baton.
But this spring morning a catbird sang
outside my door while I was reading,

while Rabbi Solomon H. remembered his son,
a nine-year-old who had,
Solomon tells us,
half the book of Psalms by heart.
When he was taken to be slaughtered,
he was saying the Psalms from memory.
Just before being gassed, the boy said,
“I am still going to pray to God.
Maybe at the last moment we will still be saved,”

Advertisement

& I looked up,
&, as catbirds will, this one
kept singing like crazy, its song
losing track of its beginning,
never the melodies of final meanings,
but going on as though nothing
within its own singing
could ever not remember
everything.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Jesus “is here in Lima, or wherever you are living, in the routine of your daily life and work.”
Gerard O’ConnellJanuary 21, 2018
People and cheered Pope Francis everywhere he went on this last day of his visit.
Gerard O’ConnellJanuary 21, 2018
A boy presents a hat to Pope Francis upon his arrival at the international airport in Trujillo, Peru, Jan. 20. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
“Just as the apostles faced the storm on the sea, you had to face the brunt of ‘El Niño costero.’”
Gerard O’ConnellJanuary 20, 2018
Pope Francis greets the crowd before celebrating Mass at the Maquehue Airport near Temuco, Chile, Jan. 17. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
“Pope Francis’ statements...were a source of great pain for survivors of sexual abuse,” Cardinal O’Malley said in a statement released Jan. 20.
Michael J. O’LoughlinJanuary 20, 2018