Nightingale - Part II

Written by: James Inman


His sleep was tormented,
each sound he heard playing upon his dreams,
until the sweet notes he remembered
floated into his ears like the gentleness of down.
Following the sound he was surprised
to see his lovely companion sitting quite near him
washing the blood from her feathers.
He spoke to her in soft tones
and she responded with gentle chirps.
Reaching out his hand he extended his finger
where she quickly perched.
He slowly carried her to her nest
and carefully placed her on the branch.
She looked into the nest and back at the king
when he realized that her chicks were gone.
He felt her emptiness.

Determined, he gathered his staff 
and began building an enclosure around the garden.
It was made of the finest material
with special openings that would allow her to leave
if ever she wished but kept potential predators out.
He fed her from gold bowls and she drank from a silver chalice.
The king's servants doted over the bird
and treated her with every kindness, as did the king.
He made certain that she would never be hurt again,
but as much as he tried the nightingale would not sing.
Night after night the king visited his special friend.
Days turned to weeks and weeks to years
when one late evening, after a beautiful day,
he entered the garden humming to himself.
As he strode to the tree, 
he spied what had become the most important thing in his life
looking at him and he smiled.
She was beautiful even if she could no longer sing.

When he stepped beneath the branch, 
she carefully jumped on to his shoulder, 
as she had become accustomed to doing,
but this time she gently pecked his ear.
He was startled by this unusual behavior and looked at her.
She started to peck him again 
and he pulled his head away muttering, 
She began to coo softly and he realized what she wanted.
It started with a low hum 
and gradually he began to sing in a deep sonorous voice.
The nightingale responded by snuggling her feathers 
against  the king's neck and cheek. 
He only stopped once that evening 
to apologize to her for not having as beautiful of a song as hers.
She cooed again and stretcher her neck as if to peck him
but this time seemed playful and she almost seemed to smile,
so he laughed and began singing once more.
He noticed, as the servants 
passed the open doorway, they glanced at him grinning,
each one presenting an enduring smile of affection.
As he grew tired she was placed back upon her nest,
and he withdrew from the garden.
Just as he reached the corridor
he heard, for one brief divine moment,
the sound of her voice.
Glancing back she sat staring at him.
He whispered goodnight to her
as if he knew she could understand him.

The nights grew longer and colder as another winter approached
and the king found it more 
and more difficult to defend his kingdom from the darkness.
He found less time to spend with his beautiful Nightingale,
and she sat alone on her lonely nest, her throne.
Then one night on silent foot steps and hushed wings,
like those of an owl in hunt,
a glowing angel entered her garden.
At first the nightingale was frightened
but the angel calmed her 
and brushed away her fears with kindness.
He spoke with her and gave her special treats
that she remembered from far away and winters past.
“Fly to me he said,” 
but, as much as she wanted to fly to this beautiful stranger,
she could not.
It was then that he noticed her damaged wing.
A tear fell from his eye as he moved closer and touched it gently.
“You poor sweet bird,” he conjoled, “This is nothing.”
He passed his hand over her wing and it was whole.
He looked at her and beckoned her to follow as he flew in to the sky.
Her elation so great, without a moments thought, she followed him.
Over the next few weeks each night the angel would come
and they would fly together enjoying each other's company.
She found herself falling in love,
and when the king visited and sang to her,
she would hide from him the miracle of her wing.
The king had been so kind to her and cared so much for her that 
the guilt became more than she could bare.
On one especially dark night with menacing clouds and sleeping moon, 
the angel flew with her in the velvet of the sky,
and made clear his desire to fly away with her
and leave this drab kingdom far behind.
She was torn, for her feelings had grown like the blossoming of the sweet scented moon flower for this strangely enticing angel.
Yet, her feelings for the king remained 
and her fealty was unwavering, 
she could not leave.