PRELUDE TO A NECESSARY SONG

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Are they trying to be songs,
those small urges nudging the heart
toward the throat, wanting to live on air?

Very like songs they are,
fragments of song, ideas for a song
swimming upstream to a belonging

with mute swans on the clear
mirror of a mountain lake
gliding toward the inevitable.

But what if they’re off-key?
Sung wrong?  What indeed.
Try to remember what

someone looking for the lost chord
midway up a mountain in Tibet
said, and which I pass along:

a bird does not sing
because it has an answer;
it sings because it has a song.

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