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October 2019 Vol. 15 No. 3

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Mary Frederick Ahearn

Little Singers

above the white clouds;
               ~ Kyoroku*

Little Pip makes up songs, singing to herself as she dances. Her eyes closed, she spins and poses, the words come to her and her voice pulls notes out of some place we can't follow. A place we once knew, and have long left. Pip's songs, high and sweet, free, unrestrained by form or function, let her soar. We rejoice.

I remember another little girl who loved to sing. In the car, on long drives to family upstate, she would sing songs from someplace only she knew. First "Cry Me a River" and then moving into "Bye bye Blackbird” – she sang softly, to herself, a comfort. No one understood how she came to know those songs, or why she loved them. No one asked.

before the migration
blackbirds gather
trees full of song

The little girl joined the junior choir. Wearing a white robe, walking up the aisle with the other children, sitting in the choir loft and singing from a real sheet of music! Her shyness shed, she attended the practices with anticipation, with joy. One bright Saturday morning, at practice, she sang with unconscious freedom, until, "Less operatics in the second row!" Silence, then softer than ever, her voice sank and fell, her song lost.

spring, then summer
so swiftly gone
now katydid, then katydidn't

Note: Kyoruku's haiku from Haiku, Everyman's Library Pocket Poets, selected and edited by Peter Washington, Translations from the Japanese by R.H.Blyth, Page 46.