Birds of Firle: ‘Singing for Souls Passing’ – a poem by Alberthe Papma

Birds of Firle Alberthe Papmus

Birds of Firle – a small, single edition book of bird images inviting thoughts on grief and hope as the things with feathers – was sent to Alberthe Papmus in the Netherlands just before the Coronavirus pandemic changed our world. As the weeks passed after she placed it in the post back to me, we both believed it lost as postal and delivery services tried to cope with emergency deliveries of food and medical equipment. But it did return, and contained this moving response: a poem whose lines – including ‘once upon a time there would be singing for souls passing’ – feel increasingly poignant as more and more people pass now without their loved ones near them.

REMEMBRANCE
by Alberthe Papmus

once upon a time we were sung into this world
welcomed – celebrated – named
voices cradling – enfolding – with love and encouragement and hope
once upon a time birds taught us to sing life and loss – and how –
sing meaning to the world – and our place in it
taught us to sing sense
once upon a time there would be singing for souls passing
voices cradling – enfolding – with love and encouragement and hope
songs of grief and gratitude – for lives lived – for love received and given
when loss would hit us – grip us – rip us – throats choked – songs caged – voices broken
birds would be with us singing – taking our beloved on soft wings whispering
this world to another
a soul carried in murmuration – swirling – twirling – swooping – free
others softly gliding into the night on the wings of owls
a lark rising to the skies – an eagle soaring
when grief hits me – grips me – rips me – chokes me
birds gently – patiently – persistently – teach me to remember – and how –
gratitude for lives lived – for love received and given
today – on the cusp of morning a blackbird sings dawn into being
tender tunes of hope – guiding my lost soul home

Alberthe Papma is on Twitter @ZinInGroen

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