Song of the South: Battle Standard

The birds are singing all around us where I live in North Carolina, announcing the coming of Spring.  Ever since I was a little boy and would watch the birds and squirrels in the trees behind my home with my grandmother, Myrtie Barefoot, I have always found the sound of birds and the scurry of squirrels a thing which calls me to joy and to wonder.

About a year or two ago, a little after my late wife’s first big stroke, I was struck by the sight and sound of cardinals singing on a treetop above where I sat meditating.   I wrote the following to celebrate that.  I hope it blesses you this lovely spring day.



Battle Standard

nc cardinalCrimson bird, sitting erect,

head held high like a general surveying his troops,

aloof yet dignified.
I see you sitting atop the greening tree

gazing on the first rays of spring morning

reflected off dogwood blossoms

and I remember

that One stands watching me

when like this muddy soil

I look forgotten

yet carry in myself

the budding seeds that awaken new life

chrysaliswhen I like the caterpillar

am bound in silky darkness

awaiting my life to take new form

and even while in darkening chill

my once bright leaves

turn rusty, orange, dirt brown

ready to fall into the sleep of winter.


Your scarlet crest is like a standard

the Master and Commander of life’s turmoil

has placed amidst these blowing winds

to remind me who orders this many mooned campaign.


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