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The Transitive Property of Song

ISSUE:  Spring 2022

Birds Sing to Their Eggs, and This Song Might Help Their Babies Survive Climate Change

—Headline, Smithsonian magazine


Of course they sing—
we have given them
no other verb.

And because sing is what I do
to my girl in the dark rocking chair, 
I call it the same;
I conceive of myself: gentle 
as the wren, master
of my singing, signals borne through 
my body, the bird’s,
every loving thing 
just converting nouns to verbs
for survival—air into breathe
sunlight to grow, infinite grammars 
I can’t make or know. 

Some things 
are verbs, you’ll learn: fire and flood
yield and smile. I teach you, 
never knowing I do:
You will make it

if they like you.
You are listening.
Let us imagine it then

as song,
harmony nested in the dark
humming live, live, live
intransitive. I am humming. 
I am hummed. Singing 
is happening. Song is 
being sung.



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