Saturday, 14 June 2014

Song Thrush

I can hear him, though I do not see him:
the song thrush is invisible, even on his high perch,
now the trees are so well clothed,
but his repeated notes stir the air and make it tremble
on this still and drowsy June afternoon, not far
from where I am kneeling, fork in hand, ready
to attack the weeds.  And his sweet and plaintive music
touches a long-forgotten chord in me, so the memories remain half-hidden
of some other garden, and some other day.
But what I do recall is how I delighted
in the shards of snail shell I discovered
on the pebble path around my childhood patch of ground.
We children each had our own little garden -
I planted feverfew and raspberries in mine, and some peas
(which hardly grew, as I recall), and a houseleek
culled from the flat roof of Granny’s outhouse;
it was a delight and wonder, this growing of things,
but far more, that a song thrush should choose these stones I planted
as an anvil on which to break his snails.
The particular and special stone he used, a little larger than the others,
I brought back from Llanfairfechan, I think.  How good
that he thought it special too.
We always had song thrushes in those days; today,
like the starlings and sparrows that used to compete for our scraps,
the speckled thrushes have mostly disappeared,
or so it seems.
So I am glad to hear this one still singing,
and that he should sing my childhood’s song.

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