The Bird King

It's usually young men, almost boys.
They leave their homes in spring
no time to waste, as if someone's calling them.
The survivors don't remember
what it was - the soft sweep
of stretched wings
a silent call, like stones singing
in the heads of the insane.
Some of their fathers
had gone before, there is no map
a direction, no route; sometimes
one arrives and returns
to the place he left
to tell the tale, disfigured
clothes threadbare and torn
a look of pure madness:
An eyrie on the cliff
eyes rolled back, lips purple
followed the path between
the roads to get back here.
Rumour has it they listen.

Translation: 2017, David Colmer

by Mischa Andriessen

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