Water and Birds

There has been a lot of talk lately about the topics of water and birds in poetry. It all began when Tara Mokhtari reviewed ‘The Best Australian Poems 2009’ Black Inc. in the Overland blog. She complained that the anthology included way too many poems about water and birds.

Brad at his blog Maekitso Cafe responded in his unique style with a series of five very entertaining blog posts.

By coincidence (and this happens all the time in the blogosphere) the lovely Selma in the City wrote a blog post about spirit, water and birds. She was unaware of the ongoing water and birds debate raging at the overland.

Also by coincidence Gretchen Miller, producer from the ABC POOL is asking for submissions for two projects (to be broadcast on national radio) – Birdlands and Rivers.

This started my little brain firing and trying to understand why humans have a thing for water and birds (well many of us do). So here is my response in the form of a poem.

Water and Birds

We are water
we are sea
we are salt
blood and tears
cradled by skin and bone
until death
releases the floodgates

we are birds
we are spirit
we are flight
mind and soul
that soar to another place
when life
incarcerates the body

when dead
the bird returns
to commune again.

24 thoughts on “Water and Birds

  1. I agree with you, life comes from the sea and aspires to the sky. Bird song is a language. Rivers are the lifeblood of the land and this is a very dry continent. Your poem is perfect.

  2. I don’t know if it was your intention but there is a very Celtic feel to this for me. The spirits, the interconnectedness not only of mind and soul but animal and human. Such a beautiful poem.

    I am intrigued by all these water and bird creations. Is it synchronicity? Maybe it’s ancient voices calling. Whatever the reason, I am all for it!

    • Don’t know about the Celtic thing – wasn’t intentional. I am sure the voices are calling, giving us a nudge. Thank you for your nudge from the blogosphere. Maybe something is speaking through you.

  3. I reckon it’s primal juxtaposition of survival and imaginaton and you captured it. 3 minutes without air, 3 days without water, 30 days without food. Well, air is usually there, we feel secure within sight of water and birds? The one thing we could not do was fly and that represents imagination. Waddayareckon? Not sure about 30 days without food…. poetry makes me hungry. Gotta go!

    • It’s funny but I always think about what you just said – how long can we go without – food, water. Some say 40 days without food. The only flaw with your proposition – I can fly (remember) but I’m sure you’re right (imagination). I’m hungry too -been watching Masterchef.

  4. i am water. not so much for the birds (though they make for some really great metaphor). but i agree with you, we have something from them in us. i think we have something from any sparkle of nature and creation is us (but only few makes for good imagery. snakes for example)

  5. I loved this poem Gabrielle, from the emotional watery restrictions of life to the floodgates and soaring freedom of death. From water to air in the time it takes to blink through a life.

  6. but the earth couldnt live without that continent. we depend on you to keep the axis on balance. in the i ching explanation of water in symbolic terms, that of the elements, water is the one associated with emotions. interesting that the issue of emotion comes up in the discussion of contemporary poetry. the creative word seems to be tapped into what is essentially found or points to what needs revisiting.

    and birds seem to be not just a reminder of natures awesome beauty but also an archetype of independence or freedom

    anyway, i love this beautiful poem gabrielle, cheers!

  7. Beautiful Gabrielle, I am running out of qualititatif…specially for someone as good with words as you. This one I could try reading if you like French accent and displaced tonic intonation!

  8. a dark kind of beauty, these birds and salt water

    I read it aloud when I first saw it in my American way — without having yet seen Benedicte’s comment! I’m warming my vocal chords too — wearing a scarf, talking softly, sipping warm tea, getting ready ….

    I hear a bit of this, though it’s Portugese, in your poem

    • Thanks Aletha. That’s a fabulous song – you have a keen ear – that would be the repetitive use of the anapest (duh, duh, DUH) that I’ve used (and is often used for a rolling rhythm which is suggestive of water) and which is used in the song (in the chorus I think).

  9. that song had a version with polish singer basia, “the waters of march”. i like it very much.

    i have to agree that sometimes the images of birds and waters had a sad effect in us. i also try to explore this realm in my poem, through this link-http://hames1977.wordpress.com/2008/09/09/quiet-contemplation/

    it’s nice to know that i am not alone in this feeling.

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