Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2022  Vol.21  No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Christmas Day, a boy who was briefly my nephew-in-law stands on the beach in the cold salt wind and cries, Why was I born? And, in my memory at least, his parents laughed. Maybe I did too. Though Christ on his birthday, poor Jesus, must have had the same thought. A cry that echoes through time, the spine of the universe a xylophone played hard by mallets. Each baby born wailing, lungs rattling, the same question filling the air. In Greek, xylophone means wood voice. The 1511 Spiegel der Orgelmacher und Organisten calls the xylophone hültze glechter, “wooden clatter.” I remember hearing that very sound falling from a tree when I was ten, the branches my body broke the mallets. My voice a wooden wail, Why? when I started to fall. Was I Born? on the way down. Why do we cry out? Do we expect an answer? Ah well, my mother always said, with a shake of her head, We’re only born to suffer and die. So, what more can we expect but the world to make music on our bones? When I hit the ground, I felt every note.  

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