I was dreaming about birds. Large, expansive wings billowing like clouds through the sky. White and clean, like Edelweiss flowers. Soft feathers rising in an arc across the sky, cutting close to the horizon. And there were sounds and names - the skylark, meadowlark, nightingale, linnet & finch. Whole songs about birds that have shaped part of my musical life, their songs and tinny voices weaved with my own. I stood and sang about a lone, wild bird in lofty flight, a bird who carried both loneliness and beauty, calling for a great spirit. In the song, I was both a part of the earth and something beyond it, something that could soar above it with great power and peace.
|Green Finch and Linnet|
How many songbirds are there and what messages do they carry? Their energy comes from light, form earth, and from the vast sky - all which are on loan to us. A sort of impermanent beauty. Or perhaps it is us that are the fleeting ones? Yes, it feels as if they belong to this earth and we are just fortunate borrowers, thieves of their songs.
Before dreaming about birds I was lying awake, replaying songs in my mind and thinking about the space around me. How the space I stood in felt as if the air was permeated with an energy that flows from sound. How that energy feels, how it tastes - the way it lingers after a song ends. We are rooted in the earth but music is not - its notes, like the bird's voice, are elusive, ephemeral - ethereal - like fairy's wings shimmering across the sky. They glimmer for a second and are lost, not gone but simply moving forward to a new space.
This, I think, is a connection worth pursuing: between ourselves and the spaces that exist in time, the space in a room, around us, on the page. The quality of air in a space, in our breath, our bodies and on earth around us. Inevitably, space leads to ground, solid under our feet - to the sky above, to water below.
The Challenge: Write a poem about the connection I described above between ourselves and the spaces around and within us: Where and how does your human voice, the poet's voice (or even the bird's voice) fit within those spaces? You are welcome to respond with a poem of any length, in any form, and from the perspective of either human or bird.
Not surprisingly, both musicians and poets alike have been inspired by birdsong. One of my favorite bird songs to sing is Meadowlark -- here sung by the fabulous Liz Callaway. Not required listening but wonderful for inspiration!
I recently read this wonderful, bird-inspired poetry collection.
“I want to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.”
― Mary Oliver,
By the time this is posted, I will be away on a retreat -- as it is our last official week of summer here in Louisiana, before kids, teachers and school administrators go back to work. I look forward to reading your poems when I return, hopefully refreshed and ready to sing, teach and write once more.