27 July 2007

Ode To A Solitary Pied Butcherbird


I have a friend, a pied butcherbird,
who cannot sing. A solitary soul, he
ranges through the trees warily –
keeps an expert eye on things.

A year ago I recognised his handicap,
half of his top beak is gone – it didn’t
seem to hold him down for long or
cramp his style in any way

except he’ll never win a mate. He
has to sing to manage that. It is a
tragedy that a bird whose voice
delights and entertains must dwell

in voiceless silence un-acclaimed,
an agony – a fate he carries in a state
of calm and dignity. He keeps an eye
on me as if I share his very private

thoughts; I mention this because I see
him every other day and ask him why
he has no mate – he is the greatest
hunter I have seen, pity female

butcherbirds don’t glean the simple
facts, a crop that’s full should beat an
empty head awash with song, especially
when its hunger calls the tune.
© 16 July 2007, I.D. Carswell