Every morning, whatever the weather, my wife Blythe rises early and feeds the birds that come to light on the deck outside our bedroom window.
She has a marvelous heart, not only for her feathered friends but for all creatures, great and small. For years, she has befriended a woman who lives in assisted living and who turns 100 next month. Blythe has become a lifeline for her friend, comforting her in times of doubt and despair and lifting her spirits in moments when confusion or loneliness overwhelms.
Her support was especially life-giving in the early months of the pandemic when nursing home visitors were severely restricted. Inspired by her dedication—and knowing that countless others were in similar circumstances—I wrote the following poem. This is not a usual approach to my weekly posts, but I share these words with you now as an expression of hope that comes with spring which is about to dawn:
Tiny Bird, Tiny Bird
Every morning just past dawn, a bird lights in a tree Outside my window glass. She’s come to sing to me. Wakes me with her gentle trills, a smile fills my head With confidence to carry on, courage to get out of bed. Not nimble as once I was, not free to move with ease, Nor fly with birds above the clouds or play tag with the breeze. Locked behind this window pane, my guests less frequent here. Some are not allowed to come, some no longer care. But she still visits every day and makes my old heart throb. Memories of younger years the thief of time has robbed. A soloist, she sings for joy, her notes so strong and bright. Each time I hear her, my heart soars, imaginings take flight. In spring, the dawn comes earlier and likewise so does she With playmates—pink and yellow flowers—and a love song just for me. Her nighttime must be short in spring, so little time to rest. But faithful, she returns each day as on her quiet quest. I wonder where she lays her head, anticipates the sun. I only know she’s here on cue; how I look forward to her song. Days grow long as summer comes, but she knows all about time And how the light plays off the earth, an intricate design Weather warms and hard rains fall and still she’s here each day, Dappled sunlight on her wing, her melody at play. And sometimes, on a special day, she returns at eventide Just before the sun goes down and the moon begins to rise The now-familiar tune I hear, my heart aburst with joy. Two visits in a single day! How fortunate am I. Her peaceful presence fills my room and everything’s alright If but one endless moment on the very edge of night. My voice is but a whisper now; how could she ever know How I look forward to her song, and how I love her so. I hold my palm against the pane, but cannot really reach her Or let her perch on trembling hand, my tiny avian teacher I long to sing a song to her and let her hear first-hand What her sweet tune means to me in a way she’d understand. As days grow short, she stops and rests on that tree of mine, Assures me though the sun is late, tomorrow it will shine. Her stays mean more in autumn’s gloom than in the springtime sun. Days wind down yet she remains, this faithful flock of one. The thing that I can still hold dear, the thing that’s never wrong: This tiny bird who visits me and sings her gentle song. As snow clouds threaten in the west, I fear she’ll fly away To distant lands that I know not, a place where she will stay A winter home so safe and warm--guess I’ll survive the pain-- But why? without my tiny bird, to give me strength again To face the trials of this life, without my feathered friend To mark each day and let me know That I can still hold onto life Until it’s time to go.