Old Nightingale by Anita Lerek


. . . at 28 years old, I was the oldest woman in history
to win the title [Miss USA, 2019]
-Cheslie Kryst (1991-2022)

What happens to the self as she ages?

Does she stiffen
like an orange,
living dead in a corner?

Or just stop—
as in Attempting the Impossible,
Magritte’s portrait of perfection
except for an arm, unfinished,
the work unfinished,
timed out—

like her crown at year’s end,
like her shaming at turning thirty—
as if the nightingale,
singing the night,
exploding joy—
were suddenly muted for growing old.

She is wedded to the social world,
baring her massiveness,
forest of curls, desires to spiteful ghosts
entering her body, a battleground.
Delete, delete!

Sadness seeds inside.
What is the measure
of a dying flower
as she creeps softly
along spiky paths,
resting beside old oak trees,

roots exhausted,
nothing to give
that last night of her life—

just the voice
lilac, violet, blue
singing the forest
scaling slaughter.


Anita Lerek is a young writer, old mask. Her writing passionately interrogates the world, outside and in. Born abroad (Poland), she retains a sense of otherness,

A poetry late bloomer, her publication credits include The New Verse News, Silver Birch Press, MacQueen’s Journal, and River Heron Review. She is co-founder of Change Artists, a socially engaged writers hub. She is the author of chapbook, History and Being. She is a lawyer, non-practising, and a stock market enthusiast (even now). She lives in Toronto, Canada with her archivist husband.

You can find her at on Facebook and on Instagram.

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