Rose Ausländer - My Nightingale

My mother was a doe in another time.
Her honey-brown eyes
and her loveliness
survive from that moment.

Here she was—
half an angel and half humankind—
the center was mother.
When I asked her once what she would have wanted to be
she made this answer to me: a nightingale.

Now she is a nightingale.
Every night, night after night, I hear her
in the garden of my sleepless dream.
She is singing the Zion of her ancestors.
She is singing the long-ago Austria.
She is singing the hills and beech-woods
of Bukowina.
My nightingale
sings lullabies to me
night after night
in the garden of my sleepless dream.


from After Every War: Twentieth-Century Women Poets, edited and translated by Eavan Boland