Here is the first poem of my challenge of 26 poems about the nature we see in our Navasola valley. It is about the common blackbird, Turdus merula, or Mirlo, in Spanish. A bird which sometimes perhaps we take for granted. And certainly the female is taken for granted with her duller but mottled brown plumage, but she is the one who makes the nests. Turdus, too, doesn’t seem the right word but means the family of thrushes and merle is harder to trace, meaning the blackbird but also merle can mean mottled and gives the names for Merle and Muriel.
However, to listen to their song and see them getting their daily ‘bread’ reminds me of the hymn sung as a child ‘Blackbird has spoken’, the Beatles ‘Blackbird’ and Wallace Stevens 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird. Trevor’s idea was for me to do poems of 26 lines. I am also going to include poems of 26 words as I feel some brevity and levity might help too.
This poem was begun on the 26 th April when so many should have been running the London Marathon and raising money for many charities, and hence the 2.6 charity challenge. On the same day my friend the artist Ruth Koenigsberger was finishing her painting, Japanese style, of a blackbird among the blossom of a tree in her orchard. I am grateful to her for allowing me to show it with the poem.
I hope this makes a good start to my own poetry marathon. Details of the fundraising links are at the end of the post. For me I feel that although as a human species we need to nurture each other now more than ever, I am also concerned that we must have the nurturing of a much damaged natural world at the heart of our recovery. So I am supporting the conservation work of the RSPB and the International Bird Life.
Blackbird Painted in the Light of Spring
As I look out from locked down listening
To varied voices in a ‘Poisonwood’ mission,
A blackbird struts, brightening my being,
Familiar feathers focus my attention.
Once they came to our London family home
Finding fallen apples, with fieldfares too.
To find them there with so much ground to roam
Relieved despair: I ask do they still visit there?
Here, under the shade of the cork tree leaves
Among wild red peas, where grass and clover clash,
Blackbirds group together search for grubs and seeds.
Disturbed by watching eyes, to trees they dash.
Within the ivy wrangled oak, shaded in with bark black hues
Away from all those human folk, a blackbird calls
So each now knows.
Be safe, beware, find a better place,
Like deep within the thicket or the bramble bush,
Where fears are easier to face, where there is not such need to rush.
The blackbird beckons us to look anew, consider too, they have a view.
A poem and a piece of art, a valley and a hill apart
Take shape with feathery fine lines and painted plumes.
The hope of Spring within a blossoming heart.
A song, new words reach out to friends in far off rooms.
Here’s to one way of looking,
At a blackbird in pear blossom.
Beauty will be born.