Sing, Songbird

By Salome Agbaroji

They say to her,
Fold yourself into the wells of your ovaries,
Far away from your tear ducts,
In seclusion from the plague you refuse to face.
Mask your mouth, for speech is not permitted at this time.
Only on occasion,
Lower your defenses to inhale contaminated air.


Now, vulnerability is a death wish.
Validity of life varies, fear of death is customary.
We all will fall; we are the bronzed leaves of autumn
That are victim to the equinox winds,
Victim to a deadly global pandemic,
Victim to the weakness of our own stems,
And to those who hate our color.


Plagues that kill masses.
One is caught, viral and deadly.
One is taught, systemic and generational.
They say to her, hide in your ovaries
And do not inhale breath to speak,
Or Covid-19 will steal the air from your lungs
After a badge steals the life of your son.
Plagues that kill masses.
Swallow the thick molasses lump in your throat,
Stomach the aches that accompany it,
Dust the ashes from your vocal cords,
And sing, songbird.
Hibernation does not eliminate the freefalling Celcius of the Earth,


Yet alludes to the stilling of a constant and unforgiving world,
Stinging your tongue to swell and lose mobility.
Emerge.
Forge light from darkness,
Then hope from light.
Rise.
Like the Sun over troubled horizons


With unwavering confidence.
Resurface.
Like the forgotten shipwreck you are
That discovered Atlantis in the deep blue desperation of its ruins.
Resurrect
The tear ducts that have laid dormant for too long,
That have been clogged by fear and pride.
Become weak.
Become broken.
Become strong enough
To one day,
Emerge.


They say to him,
Fall behind the walls of your shoulders.
Do not be appalled by the pandemic.
Do not speak a sentence, for that is not permitted at this time.
Equip yourself with gloves.
To fend off the deadly ailment
And to clench your hands while they are still warm.


Now, hope of life illudes our narrowed vision.
Death looms over us and smiles.
Viruses are fixing to consume all that breathes
And we all will fall.
Like snowflakes in the winter,
Like the Sun at dusk,
And like the corners of grins
When grim death captures the ones we love.


Plagues that kill masses.
One is infectious, caught from intimacy
And the sensitivity of touch.
One is like the other, infectious.
Taught and perpetuated through family lines.
They say to him, submit to the system.
Surrender your life to the virus,
We do not give healthcare to copper autumn leaves.
Refrain resistance the blue suits
And ascend as you watch your mother cry in your absence.
Plagues that kill masses.


Loosen the lasso around your neck.
Inspect the scars that will never fade.
Care for them anyway with faith in tomorrow,
And sing, songbird.
Hiding behind the wall of your shoulders does not end the crossfire,
Yet illusions to a stalemate in the face of an enduring enemy.
Though fortifying a barrier of unity,
Impenetrable and nonpermeable,
Will deter opposers,
They will live to tomorrow with the same hunger for your demise.
Emerge.
Like flowers from the ground,
Evolving from one seed to a being ready to face the harshest weather.
Escape.
Like the hawk-like screeches from your mouth
When you realize the reality if your existence
And try to swallow your fear of the unknown.
Become malleable.
Become broken.
Become brave enough
To one day,
Emerge.


To all,
Spring is here.
Songbirds sing songs of solace
And life sprouts with rapture and humor.
We are no longer autumn leaves,
Yet oak trees that stand tall,
Grounded firmly in its roots,
And alive.
Let us arrive
Like ants from an anthill
Garnering direction from one another.
Let us become a steadfast force.
Become a garden of life.
Become a flock of birds.
Humming hymns of endearment.


Become.
And finally,


Emerge.

About the author:

Salome Agbaroji is a Nigerian-American poet from Los Angeles County. Salome’s poetry team won second place in the Brave New Voices competition, the world’s largest youth poetry competition. She is President of her class at Gahr High School and explores music-making and film. Drawing from her roots and Christian faith, Salome creates art that displays her creativity and the elasticity of language. You can find her on Instagram @salomeagbaroji.

Authors

Ryan Kim
Co-President, Harvard Tech Review

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