The Nightingale

Drive along the banks of the United Kingdom, the water there penetrating. How can one kind of person take over the world the way these did? We live with strange history. 

A nightingale: the image of that bird that sings through the thicket at night. Hope in the dark that would bring us back to sleep, leading us through this dark passage not alone.

The nightingale is a plain brown bird. But remains a symbol through art as the singer of the night because it is often heard long after other birds have stopped singing. The bird for star-crossed lovers who would meet only beneath the moon and it’s so sad and I’m sighing. A night singer, a chanteuse, the rake’s tale, a wavering voice that churns songs out for pennies, carried only on beauty, shrouded in the light of the moon and destined for pastiness and tragedy in the end. The nightingale is the songstress of Twin Peaks who sings of a young woman’s dance with death.

Or that of a king. From Hans Christian Anderson's foreign hand that weaves a high Orientalist style tale. There is the nightingale and the Chinese emperor. The bird is portrayed as the artist itself, bringing life to the emperor’s heart at the darkest hour, not like a caged bird, not like a toy, or a pet, but a friend. The perfect slave would be happy.

I’m trying to demystify the nightingale. It doesn’t represent old British ideals that, in the current context and by association, exclude and repress an expanding and inclusive culture. I write this inclusive ideal through gritted teeth, because I might have bought it while shopping online or seen it in an advertisement produced by my cookies.

No, now is not the time to be cynical. It’s time to free the bird from colonization. Let it's song be ugly. The song: diverse and creative. The sound of water and air. An inconsistent bubbling. Let it have no rhythm. Let the bird be drab and plain. Let it fly to Europe and Africa without that route ripping another wound in our stomachs. For all the women who lost their children. For all the children who don’t know their names.

If we free it from beauty it will be beyond beauty.

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