‘A little bit of bread
and no cheese,’
the scribble larks* beg –
I know, they feast on bugs
and seeds – the notes
of their familiar song
fall like rain from the sky.
At my feet, another message
scribbled in the intricate
patterns on an empty egg,
a warning of their demise
through dearth of seeds,
flowers and uncut hedge,
where delicious insects thrive.

Kim M. Russell, 20th July 2020

File:Yellowhammer Eggs (21.5 mm x 17.1 mm Egg Size) (5921921147 ...
Image found on Wikimedia Commons

My response to earthweal weekly challenge: Messages from the Wild , also linked to dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night

This week’s challenge is hosted by Sherry, who starts with a poignant quote from Joanna Macy, which got my attention immediately:

“The heart that breaks open
can contain the whole universe.”

Sherry reminds us of the urgent messages Mother Earth is sending us: in wildfire, floods, tornadoes, the CO2 index, and record-breaking temperatures, and through her creatures, such as Tahlequah, the mother orca who carried her dead calf on her nose, in grief, for seventeen days and could not let her go.

Sherry gives us other touching examples of messages from the wild, including owls, eagles and her own beautiful wolf-dog. For today’s challenge, she asks us to contemplate messages from the wild: our own encounters with or visitations from wild creatures, totem animals with whom we identify, or other less-wild creatures, with whom we share our lives.

*another name for the yellow hammer, a migratory passerine bird in the bunting family

50 thoughts on “Bird-scribbled

  1. Seeing the birds is one thing; reading their messages another. Of course there is a personal import and importance to those messages, but the broader reading takes sight and sensibility; nature is not the nature I read seeped in Wordsworth–sublimity is the first room of the dream. Especially in the Industrial Age … Then comes … this. Familiar patterns writ wrong. I love the confrontation of these things here. Are “delicious insects” over there and not here? Who will direct those birds before they starve and squander their eggs?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Brendan. There is s big push for re-wilding at the moment, on a much larger scale than we so in our garden. Groups of nature lovers are pushing for farmers to leave hedgerows, roadsides and the edges of field to nature, so that birds and other creatures have enough to eat and survive. Hopefully, it will become widespread.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It is hard for birds to survive as we cut and tame and trim their habitat. I am encouraged by the rewilding movement. May it spread far and wide. I love, in your poem, the notes of the scribble larks’ song.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Too many years of building and stripping the land, dividing habitats until they are unlivable. The birds here have been thriving during the shutdown without interference, but I think that is about to end. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love that birdsong fallilng like rain. I’ve been more aware of birds than ever this summer. I like the fact that you link back to insects, so much less glamorous than birds, but just as important.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is beautifully poignant, Kim! I love the idea of notes of birdsong falling like rain from the sky ❤️ I sincerely hope that the birds and others remain unaffected from the crisis in the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Beautifully written but such a sad reality. I read in your earlier comment about re-wilding areas and I hope the trend of reversal continues. Nature will thrive if given even half a chance.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Of course nature will survive, in one form or another. If mankind becomes extinct, the insects, and the birds who live off them will still be here; but birdsong will be rife with sadness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As Joni sang in ‘Big Yellow Taxi’: Hey farmer farmer, put away that DDT. Put spots on my apples, but leave me the birds and the bees.’


  8. I’d love to see the return of fence rows. When I was a child, they were home to pheasant and quail, and any number of songbirds. Greedy large landowners plowed them under for a couple more rows of grain. they have learned, after a couple of dust storms, that the fence rows had a purpose! Man’s greed is his worst enemy.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I especially love this line…”the notes/ of their familiar song/ fall like rain from the sky”. What a unique and lovely image. Nature is our everything yet so many don’t even appreciate it. I have really been enjoying the birds in our yard, since I’m not working. You had me googling the yellow hammer.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Great quote “The heart that breaks open
    can contain the whole universe.” -Joanna Macy
    I also liked the way you described (as I saw it), all kind of being language of sorts, how a broken egg, a twig tells a story for the birds and the observant ape. Symbols and poetry all around!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This speaks to my heart and blog on nature and I must look out for those wild challenges. I love t your opening and then it is very real about the loss of so many different kinds of birds. I was lucky to see and hear a yellowhammer on a Wildwise birdsong workshop on Dartmoor. The bit of cheese bit left me a bit baffled but it did seem to have the rhythm of those lines.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting! So many birds visit our garden it’s hard to distinguish them. I had to listen to an RSPB recording to understand why the bit of cheese is included!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. A lovely cautionary tale of a poem. We’re destroying the earth, one seed and bug at a time–with a host of devastating consequences. Like others, I think I’ve become more aware of the birds during the pandemic.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I just demolished the hedge–my neighbor and I did it together–after making an environment for birds and etc for 2 years. No eggs were squashed, but 2 nests came down. We had an audience of unhappy birds throughout. Mostly they were robins and grey catbirds. Sigh. We had both received violations from the town with threats of escalating fines. Now that I have read your poem, I wish we had made a picket sign instead. Really, it looks awful out there. And your poem is so sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. great poem! beautifully written! it really grieves me that birds struggle to survive through the ignorance certain humans shape upon them. thanks for sharing🤍

    Follow @everythingtips for tips and recommendations if interested! It would mean a lot to me!🥺🤍

    Liked by 1 person

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