It is an odd feeling, sending a musical instrument to its doom.
I had not really bonded with the piano I got a couple of years ago for free, well plus moving costs. For a lot of that time it was in the hallway covered over whilst the house redecorating continued. Last year I moved it from the hall to the snug. A lot of pushing and shoving on my part was required.
Still it was not like my Jemima, the old Blüthner whom I gave to a friend with a dance studio two moves ago. This piano did not give me its name. It lived in a house, the one my husband and I are moving from, that did not like music. I havep layed my concertina now and then, but only for a few days running and never in a consistent way. The drums remained silent because we live in a city. Nor was I able to overcome the treacle energy here to bring my double bass out of the corner.
So, the old piano, who did not have the pedigree to make it financially viable to refurbish to sell on, was taken away four days ago to die. It should be able to donate its ivory keys to an instrument that is getting a makeover, at least I hope so. But the instrument that has been in my house all these months reached the end of its life.
Before the removers arrived that morning, I played all the keys. I played the white ones up and the black ones down. Then I played notes and chords. When I sensed the piano had had its last song, had sung its last, I let the final notes fade.
It is bittersweet because musical instruments have a soul of a sort and this one’ left as the last note faded. I knew because I told it the fate that awaited it. I was glad that its soul flew with the last notes.
Farewell. Your last note’s song escaped into the aether and will resonate somewhere, always.
Recently, I have been allowing myself to open up more to the world around me. To the dancing of the wind scattering the long strands of my hair into wondrous tangles. To the patter of the rain on my back as I work in the garden. To the summer sun, with whom I have an uneasy truce. To the mad chuttering of the squirrels, impatient calling of the magpies and the sweet songs of the small birds who visit our feeders. I am able to do this from the time I get up in until the sun goes down.
From sunset to sunrise, I find that I have close myself off and down again, to anything beyond the safe walls of my home. I sense quite acutely now the creatures of my immediate and farther landscape. But for now I will not allow myself to extend, because I daren’t engage with the countryside in my county. The Badger Cull has returned.
I simply cannot bear to hear the silent cries of the dying or feel the agony of the wounded. I learned this last year. I am not strong enough to endure this once more. At sunset, I offer ‘prayers’ to the gods and spirits of the land that the Badgers do not suffer when they are exterminated. It is, I admit, the request of one who knows better, because there will only be suffering. No only for the Badgers killed, but for the members of setts decimated in the nightly carnage.
In the morning, I wake to the beauty of the sunrise, the bird song, the view of my yew and apple trees, but I am still haunted by the knowing that so may of my Badger kin will never know the feeling of the wind over their backs, the rain on their noses or the sun warming the entrance to their sett. I pause and as I give thanks for another day, I whisper farewell to those who have died during the night in a misguided attempt to control a disease that has by now in the land itself. harder still is that we will never know how many healthy Badgers died, and died in vain.
This poem was inspired by a reply I made on Twitter, to a photo posted of a blackbird singing as darkness fell.
Hear the blackbird’s song,
dancing through the leaves,
tripping over fences,
lilting in the hedges,
the herald announcing
summer’s ever briefer
as he farewells the day,
welcomes the night.
Sweet notes of the solo
sent forth into the sky
filled in the distance
with clouds perhaps,
or the lonely crescent moon
barely lifted from the horizon
a presence daring emptiness,
as he farewells the day,
welcomes the night.
Sending forth notes melodious
the chorister sings his
an avian orison
announcing another interval of light
lived fading passing
into the tomorrow’s memories,
as he farewells the day
welcomes the night.
I went out the front door to check for the post, which hadn’t arrived.
I walked the short way to the sidewalk and looked down the street, then up.
Looking up the street I saw a sparrow on the ground.
I went and picked it up. I saw no signs of a violent end. Its legs were stiff and its eyes partially closed. It didn’t look like it had been in pain when it died or the death was too sudden for it to register.
I stroked it gently, such a fragile being. Such tiny feathers. Such a delicate creature that usually flits about in and out of the shrubbery. Always in a hurry. Never staying still for long. On the look out and on the move.
A creature whose way of life I can barely understand. Life between earth and air. Life lived on the ground, among the bushes and in the air.
I held it for a long time. Thinking about its life and why it ended it where and when it did. Pondering the reason that I found it, saw it – others had been up and down the street before me. It was right in the middle and couldn’t be missed and surely someone earlier would have moved it. Could have done, but it was there and so was I.
What then, since we were placed at the same place together, is its lesson for me?
The tenuousness of life, perhaps. The need not always to be flitting about because you will be stopped. The necessity to pause and pay attention to the chirping and twittering, of the birds I mean. That life is a gift and a promise to be neither ignored nor dishonoured.
Many possible lessons and no sure answers . . . as it should be, as mysterious as the life this small one led.
Farewell then small soul. May you be welcomed with open wings in the enshrubberied halls of your ancestors. May you join your voice to the eternal dawn and dusk chorus and the everlasting daily chirping that echoes between the silences of the gentle summer’s breeze.
Farewell Sparrow, and thank you for the lessons you will teach me that I am not yet able to comprehend. You rest now on the roots of the rose that climbs beside my front door. I could not bury beneath the soil, one who always flew free in the bright air. I will remember you as I come and go and we will speak in the whispers of wonder and the intimacy of intuition.