Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Three Little Birds (Bob Marley)

I subscribed to The Sun literary magazine for almost a decade - last year we were going through some financial difficulties and I vowed to cut some things out of the budget that were "non-necessities". I thought I could sacrifice a few of my subscriptions - I was wrong. As I was going through some back issues this past Sunday, I came across the poem I use here... and it took my breath away - what I absolutely love is that its jumping-off place is Emily Dickinson's verse, first published in 1891, a few years after her death. I might not have known that if I didn't wear a bracelet on which is etched the first two lines of her poem - the beauty of Bursk's follow-up, over 100 years later, is that he never once writes the word "hope" but the intent is clear... and you can bet I'll be re-subscribing first thing tomorrow!

“Remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. “Your father’s right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy . . . but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

POEM: The Thing with Feathers by Chris Bursk

It's the first thing you hear in the morning,
the last you hear at night.
In the woods, in the swamps,
in the old steeple, in the ruined eaves,
over the wreckage of a car
your mother drove straight into a wall.
The bird won't stop singing.
It is perched in the ashes of a house that burned to the

Wherever you move, it's one hop
ahead of you. Tireless
as a creek, it's a tune that will not allow itself
to be forgotten. It keeps building
and leaving its nest, all chatter, all expectation,
water singing to itself
in the shadows as well as in the sunlight.
That insufferable optimist.

No matter how many doors you slam,
curses you shout, rocks you throw,
it pipes up louder than ever
on this very branch of this very tree outside your house
---as if stones must be your way of applauding.
It was singing the morning you got fired,
the day you brought grief to the person
you most wanted to protect,
the evening when the great cause you'd pledged yourself to
failed. It sang
while your father was writing his suicide note,
the night your dear friend told you he was HIV-positive,
the night you could find nothing remaining
to believe in, when all you wanted
was to be left alone. It sings in places so dark
you can't see into them.
It's out there singing now.

QUOTE: "Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark." ~ Rabindranath Tagore

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