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Blackbird


Poetic people go on about the nightingale's song. Not that we hear it down here in Devon.  But I listened to one singing in an old oak tree at my daughter's in Essex, and - yes - it really was beautiful.

But this spring and early summer I've been struck by how lovely is the song of the blackbird.
There are so many sounds, carefully - almost, it seems, thoughtfully - phrased.

We have one who performs from our roof ridge, as high as he can get so that the song can be heard at its best, perhaps also by as many as possible.  He can be interrupted, when he flies off with a harsh alarm call, but most evenings (and probably mornings too) he takes up position, and delivers.

Actually, it's much more than a straight delivery. 
What made me think there was thought, indeed listening of his own, was that he was creating gaps, silences that were as important as the sounds.  And I thought I could hear another blackbird not far away responding, who for his part was constructing his song around and between the other's.

It struck me that they weren't so much singing to each other, or even against each other, as saying something that needed saying and announcing their presence to whoever might be interested, while inviting the listener to respond by giving them the opportunity to do so, and paying attention to what might arise.

And so I found myself attending to the gaps: that which interleaved, the unwritten-upon paper between and around the text, the white that was waiting for the black, the empty pages ready to be filled.

Thus the silence somehow became as important as the sound, by virtue of his song, which I no more understood, than the original silence he was using so carefully.



The Blackbird on the Ridge


Are these words that crack the air,
bubble and whistle, mixed with silence?
Another gap.


And is it song, that calling out
is answered by another?
Followed by a gap


what thoughts are these, that
interrupt my words, broken up
by questions I cannot understand?


His voice continues, then it waits.
For now he’s as quiet as is this listener
seeking a word, like a blackbird


caught between bars of unwritten music
and uncertain words. We are both
trapped in a gap, while the air heals its tear.














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