Gone to the House of Sound

John W. Sexton

Gone to the House of Sound

Sunlight lay hidden in the garden of the three brothers.
Midnight came and sunlight didn’t stir.

At three in the morning the youngest brother
awoke to birdsong.
Sunlight clotted his room
so the brother got dressed.

In the garden a thousand blackbirds
had made themselves into a chair.
Along its edge was a piping of orange beaks,
continually calling.

The youngest brother sat into the chair of blackbirds
and let sunlight weight his eyes.
In the luxury of feathers he fell asleep
and the blackbird chair took him away.
He sat perfectly still in restless movement.

At four in the morning the middle brother
was awoken by birdsong.
Sunlight clotted his room
so the brother got dressed.

In the garden nineteen thousand thrushes
had made themselves into a narrow thrumming house.
A door of thrushes opened wide
and the middle brother entered.
He stepped upon a stairway soft with birdsong
and the front door shut itself tight.
The house of thrushes took off
and the stairway became a climb of continuous arrival.

At six in the morning the eldest brother
awoke to daylight.
This was a new daylight,
born from the last breath of night.

The eldest brother stepped into the garden.
Not a bird stirred in the still morning;
not a single sibling to disturb the world.


John W. Sexton lives in the Republic of Ireland. His fifth poetry collection, The Offspring of the Moon, was published by Salmon Poetry in 2013. His sixth collection, Futures Pass, is forthcoming from the same publisher in 2018. In 2007 he was awarded a Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship in Poetry. His speculative poems are widely published and some have appeared in Apex, The Edinburgh Review, The Irish Times, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Mirror Dance, The Pedestal Magazine, Phantom Drift, Poetry Ireland Review, Silver Blade, Star*Line and Strange Horizons.

Editor’s Note: Image of blackbirds in Denmark (Willkommen in Südjütland) is combined with that of a cowboy in a chair in silhouette.

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