life: acoustic & amplified

poetry, quotes & thoughts about life








by Billy Collins

It was not the Five Mississippi Blind Boys

who lifted me off the ground

that Sunday morning

as I drove down for the paper, some oranges, and bread.

Nor was it the Dixie Hummingbirds

or the Soul Stirrers, despite their quickening name,

or even the Swan Silvertones

who inspired me to look over the commotion of trees

into the open vault of the sky.

No, it was the Sensational Nightingales

who happened to be singing on the gospel

station early that Sunday morning

and must be credited with the bumping up

of my spirit, the arousal of the mice within.

I have always loved this harmony,

like four, sometimes five trains running

side by side over a contoured landscape––

make that a shimmering, red-dirt landscape,

wildflowers growing along the silver tracks,

lace tablecloths covering the hills,

the men and women in white shirts and dresses

walking in the direction of a tall steeple.

Sunday morning in a perfect Georgia.

But I am not here to describe the sound

of the falsetto whine, sepulchral bass,

alto and tenor fitted snugly in between;

only to witness my own minor ascension

that morning as they sang, so parallel,

about the usual themes,

the garden of suffering,

the beads of blood on the forehead,

the stone before the hillside tomb,

and the ancient rolling waters

we would all have to cross some day.

God bless the Sensational Nightingales,

I thought as I turned up the volume,

God bless their families and their powder blue suits.

They are a far cry from the quiet kneeling

I was raised with,

a far, hand-clapping cry from the candles

that glowed in the alcoves

and the fixed eyes of saints staring down

from their corners.

Oh, my cap was on straight that Sunday morning

and I was fine keeping the car on the road.

No one would ever have guessed

I was being lifted into the air by nightingales,

hoisted by their beaks like a long banner

that curls across an empty blue sky,

caught up in the annunciation

of these high, most encouraging tidings.

Single Post Navigation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: