I never know what the topic of my post will be until I sit at the computer. Sometimes I wish I were more of a planner, more precise in vision and in general and I don’t necessarily mean with my writing. However, I have one of the minds that never stops and so ideas fling themselves at me constantly. The only way to deal is by choosing the one that hits me the hardest. In this case, it’s the bird, the tiny little bird that caught my attention.
The appointment I had was at a building with concrete stairs on the outside. My friend, the bird in the photo, was coming down the steps as I was going up. It stopped; I stopped. Tiny blue-brown eyes stared. I stared back. The bird hopped down; I stepped up. I looked back to find the bird doing the same. For a moment I had the oddest feeling we connected; we shared a moment.
It seems to me we don’t stop as often these days for those moments. We are always in such a hurry or worse, we have a phone in our hand and our attention is centred on situations so removed by what is in front of us that it is ridiculous. Let’s be honest – it’s the truth. Have a look around you. Only yesterday I was on an escalator (magical moving stairs) heading to the carpark and the three people in front of me were all staring at their phone, two of them ignoring their own children in order to do so. Thankfully, their attention shifted back to reality just before getting to the end of the escalator.
Later that same day, when on route to a class I teach, I came to an intersection where I needed to turn left. Naturally, the traffic lights indicated I need to give way to a pedestrian. No problem unless that same pedestrian was walking so incredibly slow that the word stroll didn’t cover it. She was on the phone. The woman had no consideration for the fact that cars were waiting to turn before the lights changed (said lights were already flashing red). If you think I am having what we Aussies think of as a whinge for the sake of it, then please don’t. She truly was walking at a snail’s pace, stopping to emphasise a point (the free hand was flapping through the air), and ignoring the rest of the world. What could be so important? So fascinating that safety was compromised as was the needs of others? Seriously?
If I had been staring at my phone I would have stepped on the bird or missed it entirely. This niggled at me until I recalled a poem I had written. I have three poetry books and an anthology out there as well as my novel. ‘Outside my Window’ comes from Emotions in Evolution, a work I dedicated to nature for a great part of the book. Is it a good poem? I don’t know. Poetry is such a personal medium and can be obscure in expression and my work definitely has a strong relationship with the concept of not making sense. Or does it?
In my poem I was annoyed by the distraction of nature. Then slowly I found appreciation for there is so much beauty in what is around us. My noisy bird in my poem might have been the tiny creature, perfectly formed and brave enough to meet my stare. How, I have to ask, can we prefer the screen to reality? Why do we ignore real life and focus on someone else’s reality? My tiny friend offered a life experience, a quiet slice of time in which to observe nature, to recall whimsy and the wonder of our world. Whether you like my poem or not, matters little in comparison to the pleasure I feel knowing I took time to notice what is around me. I don’t want to miss things so I guess I will have to make sure I don’t.
Outside my window
Little bird, little bird,
go find somewhere else to play.
I hate your cheeping voice.
Find somewhere far away
because quiet is my choice.
I want to dream, to sleep,
not listen to the high-pitched call.
Yet I hear it, I hear it creep,
wanting, daring to enthral.
It has awakened my heart
with its trill and flapping wings.
It has pierced the deepest part.
It has that power when it sings.
Does the winged one call
because I am feeling sad?
Does it deliberately enthral
because it wants me glad?
No light fills my heart
despite the power of those wings.
Sharp ear piercing on its part
despite the pretty way it sings.
It knows I need to take the leap
and refuses to let me ignore his call.
It knows my unhappiness is deep
and knows I need it to enthral.
Little bird, little bird,
don’t leave, don’t go away.
I was very wrong.
I can’t start my day
without your sweet, sweet song.
Ciao for now,
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Lovely poem, Barbara, and a great reminder to each of us to pay attention to our surroundings.
I really like this one! I also have one called Outside My Window, haha. Different theme, but still about nature. I like the lesson in yours though
Post it Brandon. It’s been a while since I seen your work.
I actually have it scheduled for October 10th.
It’ is interesting to read this post Barbara – both the post of your bird song poem and the tiny bird on the ground. I have worked from home for 11 years now. It is quiet in my house – I live alone, no pets, no family, my friends no longer live nearby. I have not seen my boss in ten years this month. I really like the peace and solitude and you would think I would welcome going to the Park and chatting with other people, but I don’t. I prefer a quick hello, then my morning stroll – my quiet place.
My peace and solitude was interrupted by noise this Summer … the third Summer in a row, but this year it just got to me. A constantly barking Doberman on the corner all day long and into the evening and even on weekends. Also, a whining dog next door, howling all day long for its owner who is gone 10 hours a day; it stays in her bedroom, right beneath my kitchen window where I work. Junk calls all day. I thought I would lose my mind. I was outside bringing in groceries and a Robin in a nearby tree was singing sweetly. I was so annoyed with that noise – it was as if I could not endure another noise, another minute. I thought I’d lost my mind – a song I had always found pleasant got on my nerves. Thank goodness it is colder, the windows are closed, but I sit in the house with earplugs … perhaps it is growing older, perhaps it is just the state of the world, but I hope to never feel that way about a bird singing its sweet song again. Since I am writing on your blog post, I did contact the police because I just couldn’t tolerate the noise any longer. I remained anonymous … for now.
I am going to send you a link if I can find it from my blog. It may go to your SPAM filter, so I will send it on the comment you made at my blog. I had a similar experience with a bird on the ground, a baby Robin and I kept thinking “what if I had not looked down just then, because that little bird would surely have been crushed by my heavy walking shoes?” I took a picture of that wee soul looking up at me – just like this baby squirrel looked up at me. I am a bleeding heart. That’s why I can’t have pets any more – too much grief when they are gone.
Thank you for sharing. It means a lot. And I understand the last bit about pets. It’s one of the reasons I don’t have them but more and more I wish I did.
I hate that I had that moment Barbara. I hope it never happens again but it scared me a bit. As to pets, I lost my mom in January 2010 and lost my bird a couple of weeks before Christmas the same year. Because I was working at home, my neighbor said I needed to get another bird – I resisted and finally gave in. Six years later it had a stroke and I had to have it euthanized. Never again. I lavish my love on the squirrels and birds at the Park. I was feeding a few squirrels at my house and hawks got them – my neighbor knew and didn’t tell me. I was horrified and upset about that.
What a beautiful poem Barbara! I have a bird feeder I see daily right outside the window by my chair. What a lovely post!
Thank you for your kind words. Now if you would just deliver some meals my way, I would be very happy. ❤