Today's poem is by Stuart Bartow


Often they are described as twain, but who thinks
of them as a pair of sisters? Instead, their voices waft
from a crag, a rocky coast, and I imagine a flock,
a rookery, feathers scattered among the skulls
and empty rib cages of bewitched sailors. Perhaps

only two sing at any given time, or maybe all
their voices fuse to two. Then there is the matter of size.
Are their bodies big as humans, their talons large
as garden rakes? Or are they like sea eagles, ospreys,
or with heads no larger than Barbies,

their movie star faces those of human dolls?
How is it they enchant so? Twin sopranos,
their avian shapes must mingle their voices
with sea and wind, casting over the breakers,
swiping the minds of simple mariners

who haven't heard a woman sing in what feels like
never. The first woman we hear singing is ever
the first woman singing. Did I almost drown to find
the source of that voice, the bringer of that spell?
And what of you? Hearing the greatest girl group ever,

wouldn't you course toward the mist-shrouded coast?
Merely their voices would be enough for me
to cast away. But you, what lyrics would coax
you to madness, risk death to hear? No mirror green,
I watch through a clouded glass. Tell me, but no
one else your secret. I will stow it safely
in a place that is sister to the sea.

Copyright © 2011 Stuart Bartow All rights reserved
from Questions for the Sphinx
WordTech Editions
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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