The Meaning of Birds

” … it is not news that we live in a world
where beauty is unexplainable
and suddenly ruined
and has its own routines. We are often far
from home in a dark town, and our griefs
are difficult to translate into a language
understood by others. We sense the downswing of time
and learn, having come of age, that the reluctant
concessions made in youth
are not sufficient to heat the cold drawn breath
of age. Perhaps temperance
was not enough, foresight or even wisdom
fallacious, not only in conception
but in the thin acts
themselves. So our lives are difficult,
and perhaps unpardonable, and the fey gauds
of youth have, as the old men told us they would,
faded. But still, it is morning again, this day.
In the flowering trees
the birds take up their indifferent, elegant cries.
Look around. Perhaps it isn’t too late
to make a fool of yourself again. Perhaps it isn’t too late
to flap your arms and cry out, to give
one more cracked rendition of your singular, aspirant song.”
– Charlie Smith, from “The Meaning of Birds”
  (Indistinguishable from the Darkness)

7 thoughts on “The Meaning of Birds

  1. Christine

    I like what he says. My kids would hate it if I got the idea to:

    to flap your arms and cry out, to give
    one more cracked rendition of your singular, aspirant song.“

    The mamas down South threaten their teenagers by saying, ‘ You better give your mama a hug, or I’m gonna bust a move on you.” They mean break out in a dance in public. Hee hee!

  2. Darlene

    How wonderfully this poem describes a person’s life. I was looking for a poem to caption a picture I took in my youth. It was a beautiful moment but long gone. Life took its twists and turns but as your poem says, “it is morning again,…” The last line also grabbed me. I love the use of the word, “aspirant.”

  3. Michelle Post author

    Hi Darlene, Charlie’s poem is marvellous. I’m glad you enjoyed these lines.

    Thank you for your comment.

  4. Eloise

    I have had a copy of Charlie Smith’s poem on my wall for 10 years now. I put it up shortly after my divorce, moving to a new town and starting a new business at the age of 55. I came across this poem shortly after all this happened and it grabbed my heart.

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