The Birds Still Sing

When we miss someone, we feel the absence of their touch and see that they are not there in the stillness of our personal shadows, but it is when we notice the absence of their noise that the missing becomes hardest to bear. That is when we long for an absent-minded hum, a footfall, fingers running up the piano, a burp, a cough, a sneeze, or the clink of a spoon in a tea-cup – anything that tells us they’re home.

A cappella is all that is best about the human voice – its genre hopping versatility, its energy, the beauty of its harmonies and the ear popping acrobatics of its beat boxing – so much so, that when it is suddenly switched off, the world becomes a much quieter place. We had an a cappella group living with us for a week last summer – this is for them and the void they left behind.


Do you know that the birds still sing?

And the grass soft mourns,


where youthful feet once fell?

Leaves, timid, dare to shift and shuffle,

in zephrous breeze,

hinting at lingering laughter lost.

While dew drop tears falling


and my soul misses their noise.


Song filled our ears

for one summer week – long lived.

Now the wind

blows a crescendo of nothing

to collide with the notes in my head;

silent notes – the memories of music shared.

Shared music that will be shared again.

And joyously again.

But listen now,

for I had forgotten that the birds still sing.


When summer’s embers fall and fading, glow.

Between 1911 and 1915, Richard Strauss wrote an utterly incredible piece of music depicting an Alpine trek. It begins before dawn and ends at nightfall. Unable to write music, this my attempt at a tribute to a late summer, early autumn, sunset. I had ‘Eine Alpensinfonie, Op. 64’ as my personal ear-worm, as I linked these words together.


On storm lashed slope,

my summer music trips.

And falters.

That vibrant rain, once bright,

slowly sifts

into  drizzle; a hazy pall.

A mellow melody murmers,


and gently falls.

In notes that,

careful, step

from stave to stave. Then,

with late effort, climb.


Hold the sound.


and linger.

The distant timpani

hold. Feel the

high sighing strings

slowly sink

through breeze stirred dance

and float

disonant depths down,

to rest on a waiting earth .



Inhale the sonorous minor key.

Sleep through the colour change;

the rainbow painted red, as

Nature’s pallet, ageing, browns

in dusky desication. And leaves drop

as summer waves her last ‘Hurrah’

On mountain top, stand lightly;

with wide embrace hold the setting sun.


It slips.

It slips away.

Turn now to Autumn’s amber glow and

catch your totem shadow.

Shiver, as

dew heavy falls; in

sudden twilight chill

hear the music fade.