Tavye Neese

Cantata for Bella

When you were born, I’d like to say
every bird sang only in Gaelic

and rivers made white crests
beckoning to bless the length

of your limbs, new swirls of skin—
branches of cedar trembled

over the part in your skull
not yet fused and solid.

I’d like to say the world
provided swaddle by aria

but it was only my body

stretched out like horizon—
the hill of my abdomen,

warm stream from nipple,
the slow settling of pubic

joints making quiet clatter
after my screaming.

Once, I was nothing but music
over your unripened bones,
and one bird at the sill

offered her quick gold note.