The Penguin Blackbird

A blackbird who’s a bit different from the rest inhabits our back garden though we’ve seen him too down towards the churchyard where the graves are.  He’s got white feathers round his eyes and one or two on his tail giving him a jaunty look, though the other birds don’t seem to notice.

You might think the patches are splashes from the whitewash that was thrown around at Danny’s inquest but we’d first noticed him nearly 6 months ago.  There was a meeting in the conservatory with a couple of staff from social services and health to discuss what could be learned from Danny’s death and how things might change for the better.  Mr Blackbird seemed to be keeping an eye on proceedings from outside and is often to be seen near the window.

Though an interesting idea, I don’t really believe in reincarnation but Danny might have liked to have wings and live outside.  He certainly enjoyed flying and watching trees in the breeze.  He must often have felt on the outside looking in.  Perhaps the blackbird wants to make sure we don’t give up on the journey we seem to be on, even if it seems to take us up dead ends.

At Sam’s funeral in 2003 a teaching assistant friend of his read ‘Frog and the Birdsong’ by Max Velthuijs.  A blackbird is found dead by Frog and his friends but as they return home after burying him, laying flowers and playing games, a blackbird is heard singing ‘as it always does’ – like the one outside now, keeping our spirits up.  And a small frog is often spotted lurking under the plants by their graves…

Penguin Blackbird reminds me of a song singers we’ve known have sung over the years –‘A Blackbird Singing’.  The poem was written while Francis Ledwidge was fighting in World War 1, killed in 1917 at Passchendaele.  100 years ago Michael Head set the words to music aged 18.  It mirrors how we’re feeling right now with the bluebells fading in the woods where Danny liked to go:

A blackbird singing
On a moss upholster’d stone,
Bluebells swinging,
Shadows wildly blown,

A song in the wood,
A ship on the sea,
The song was for you
And the ship was for me;

A blackbird singing,
I hear in my troubled mind,
Bluebells swinging
I see in a distant wind,

But sorrow and silence
Are the wood’s threnody,
The silence for you,
And the sorrow for me,

A blackbird singing