Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Sam Hamill: Nightingales of Kifissia

An evening in Kifissia, a taverna

after the botanical garden,

now more than thirty years ago,

.

the nightingales, hundreds,

the sound of nightingales through it all.

And me feeling terribly alone.

.

Ten years later, walking with my new wife

through the teeming streets of Tokyo,

the convocations of jungle crows,

.

loud, rude, but sounding

happy, happy as I was—

for a little while…

.

Then, ten years ago, my wife

feeding sparrows at her feet

in a Buenos Aires plaza, speaking

.

softly of my life after her death

by cancer. So much grief in me

that I found no question

.

and no answer. She laughed and said,

“You’ll have to find yourself

a hottie,” and fed

.

the bird on our table and it hopped

right into her hand. “You see?”

she said. “Love is everywhere.”

.

After years of mourning,

I was awakened one dawn

to the sound of doves

.

above the empty streets of Paris.

Grown old, infirm, I felt

my heart grow young again,

.

remembering there is

so much meaning to touching

a hand, a cheek, across a little table,

.

what it means to speak

intimately of cities and streets,

to tell of how the sparrows eat

.

in Buenos Aires, and how,

in Kifissia, the nightingales sing

away my grief. While she I barely knew

.

made coffee, singing softly,

I said nothing

while I thought these things.


Copyright 2018 The Estate of Sam Hamill. From After Morning Rain published by Tiger Bark Press. Included in Vox Populi by permission of the publisher.

.

Sam Hamill (1943-2018) grew up on a Utah farm. He was Founding Editor of Copper Canyon Press and served as Editor there for thirty-two years. He taught in artist-in-residency programs in schools and prisons and worked with Domestic Violence programs. He directed the Port Townsend Writers Conference for nine years, and in 2003, founded Poets Against the War. He is the author of more than forty books, including celebrated translations from ancient Chinese, Japanese, Greek and Latin. (photo: Ian Boyden)

One comment on “Sam Hamill: Nightingales of Kifissia

  1. jfrobb
    February 28, 2019

    Every time I read one of his poems, I sigh. Touched in a place where there are no words.

    Liked by 2 people

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This entry was posted on February 28, 2019 by in Opinion Leaders, Poetry and tagged , , , .

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