The Marginalian
The Marginalian

The Half-Life of Hope

After “Spell Against Indifference,” an offering of another poem — this one inspired by a lovely piece of science news that touched me with its sonorous existential echoes.

by Maria Popova

Walking beneath the concrete canopy
     of Manhattan
I find myself thinking about
Charles B. Kaufmann
just after the end
of the Second World War
invented bird spikes
thought it a fine idea
to fang the roofs
of hospitals and banks,
to weaponize the libraries
to keep the thing with feathers
from perching on our homes
to keep the angels
     from alighting.

Twenty bird generations later
atop a maple tree
outside a hospital in Belgium
a magpie has heisted
a thousand metal spikes
to make of them
     a nest
to sing from it
the requiem
     of the saved.

Published September 9, 2023




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