Author: Compton, Cliff

For the Birds ()

There’s a big old oak tree in my neighbor’s yard that I can see through my bathroom window, and there’s a song bird in the top of that tree that could swear has been on the same branch singing his little heart out for the last ten years. I know it couldn’t possibly be the same bird, birds don’t live forever, but it sure seems that way. I figure it must be a gift from the creator to make my life a little sweeter.

Little birdie, little birdie
Come and sing me your song
Got a short time to stay here
And a long time to be gone

As I’m getting older, I notice things that used to escape my attention in the middle years. Birds are one of them. There are two soft brown doves that sit on the telephone wire above the short palm tree by my swimming pool. They never seem to go far from there. They always seem to me to be content with just enjoying each other’s presence, sitting with their heads together, serene and comfortable.

White dove will mourn in sorrow
The willows will hang their heads
I'll live my life in sorrow
Since mother and daddy are dead

There’s an ugly black pigeon that has begun to bother those birds. He’s bigger and a bit of a bully, flying at them, breaking into their reverie, chasing them into the hanging branches of the knot around the top of the tall palm in the house behind me, showing off for some dull gray pigeon that ought to be living in the bell tower of some ancient cathedral in some dirty city somewhere. That black pigeon bothers me. I wish he’d leave those doves alone.

The blackest crow that ever flew would surely turn to white
If ever I prove false to you bright day will turn to night
Bright day will turn to night my love, the elements will mourn
If ever I prove false to you the seas will rage and burn

I remember riding through one of the backroads in Washington and seeing these beautiful magpies all over the place, but the beauty never seemed to match with their carrion nature. They were ripping the flesh off the dead chipmunks that seemed to be everywhere along the road.

The road is lined with dead chipmunks
And the magpies are licking them clean
The one is dead sober and the other blood drunk
And the rest are right in between

As a child I was always fascinated by the robins that would come out early in the morning outside my house in Yakima Washington. They’d listen to the ground beneath them and you’d see them suddenly dip toward the ground and pull up an earthworm. I always think of them when I hear Ralph Stanley sing:

Springtime is coming in the mountains
However on the hill where daddy lay
All the song birds are singing
And a robin built a nest on daddy’s grave

Posted:  8/9/2013

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