Dry plants beat my brother’s coffin.
Dry tears sweep my father’s face.
Willy Wagtail tried very hard to make the woman hear the song of her brother. She had come into her garden to warm up as the house was like an icebox. Willy perched on the silver tarpaulin that her husband had draped all over the yard while his pond, bonsai mountain project was in progress. Willy gave his most coy head cocked to one side, glinty bird eye gaze challenge. He chirped, changed position and chirped again. She didn’t seem to understand what he was trying to say, but then she nodded her head and began to talk to him.
‘I know he’s okay, much safer. He’s playing Jimi Hendrix in his soul. He’s really doing better and says sorry for chucking stones on the way to school that time.’
Willy was impressed – this was indeed one of those who had listened to the old stories. He wasn’t sure that there were many of the Eagle souls left but her brother had said she was one and had insisted Willy make the journey from the soul garden. He nodded to her, and flew back to the soul garden in a blink, so that when she turned to continue their conversation he was no longer there. She wondered when the messenger would arrive again.
She preferred the wagtail of her brother’s soul bird to those curlews. Curlews carried the songs of disaster victim and they had piercing cry that pulled her heart apart. The 5 million Chinese earthquake victims had caused an awful weeping the last few nights. They conjured up the images of the news as nothing else could for her Eagle soul.
The problem with being an Eagle soul was that often you could hear the birds whether they were near or far. Still this had meant that she had found the Nightingale very early in life. Just thinking of that song made her feel warm. She thought of the words of the Nightingale- ‘You are always free if your soul song hums away as involuntarily as a heart beat. Then you walk with one foot here and one in the soul garden.’
She had striven to remember this when he mother had raised the curlew cry at the funeral of her brother. She knew she did not want to outlive her children in this way and could have some understanding for her mother’s tears. Still mourning was long and complicated for those whose soul song had an irregular heart beat. Her mother really needed a bypass of some sort.
Willy Wagtail was wrong though, she did not know just of the old ways of the Eagle soul, she also knew of the new Nightingale song. She could hear the birds of the soul garden through the Nightingale and knew her brother was but a heartbeat away.
The clouds came over and she had to leave her garden. She grabbed a few clothes and made her way back into the icebox, just a little bit warmer.
(c) June Perkins Another Excerpt from Island Rock Girl