(Original Black Skylark artwork copyright owned by Denise Elliot Vernon)
Have you heard the song of the black skylark?
That creature of burning black leaves
found often at midnight on top the gleaming sphere
of Savannah’s city hall.
Or sometimes just outside the windows
of those about to die or those being born.
People tell tales, and tales
adorn themselves with legend.
There is one story about a waitress,
she was somebody’s mama and daughter,
about 20 or 30, half Muslim, half Jewish,
on her way home walking down Bay street
around 3 a.m. when a manbeast strolled
out of an alley and struck her to the ground.
His thick hands had already torn through
her blouse, and pointed teeth like razors
sliced her skirt and muscular thighs.
A naked rage jutted from his crotch
and dripped hot ignorance all over
the woman’s exposed flesh. Just above
the street where they struggled, there in the window
of a second-floor apartment was another
man and woman watching the manbeast
rattle fury all over the screaming waitress. They watched until overtaken by a heat
that slammed them banging against the windowsill.
And that was when the sound came.
It curved like a screeching arrow
arching up out of the river behind city hall
but at the same time that sound fell,
like a smoking moon shouting out prophecies,
it rolled down the street like a hurricane of jazz singers
and exploded out the sky like a god of love
outraged by the shadow of his own apathy.
The street shook and the manbeast emptied like a pig.
In the middle of their kiss, the couple in the window
erupted nausea from one mouth to the other.
The song of the black skylark blossomed
into a tidal wave of molten earth
that swallowed the manbeast whole
and flooded the window of the blissless couple
like a huge shroud of death stink with horror.
When silence descended over the street
the waitress lay on her back thinking she was dead.
Then slowly her eyes opened. She claimed later
that a large black bird, something other
than crow or a raven, was standing on top
of a man’s skull. One arm of the skeleton
pointed up as if in recognition of a vision.
This bird, she said, suddenly flared like a heaven
then shrunk into a silhouette against the full moon.
From that impossible distance she could hear the bird
until the flow of its roar pulled her to her feet
and she looked up again, this time to see two more
skeletons fallen against a window in an apartment
above the street. Like anybody would have done,
she began to run. As she went past city hall
the bird landed on its dome and began singing.
Many people said they both heard and saw it
just as the sun was rising. And the rain that fell
from a clear sky that morning, they all claimed, were the tears
of the sun, and that bird, weeping for the dead.
Wow..Intense! Shocking in places, but in a good way. The whole passage about the waitress...I could feel the violation. Good writing! You really made me feel the emotion! "A naked rage jutted from his crotch and dripped hot ignorance all over the woman’s exposed flesh." I actually gasped when I read this! Powerful stuff! Great job, Aberjhahni.
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