To a Starling

In the meantime, Branwen reared a starling at the end of her kneading-trough and taught it to speak. She told the bird what kind of man her brother was.
Mabinogi – Second Branch translated by Sioned Davis

She flutters and alights -- 
an iridescent delight 
all feathers and a tiny heartbeat
that brings sweet 
air and sky and sun and wind.

And I, tethered 
to my kneading trough wonder,
What words might I teach you, dear starling?

What grand words of praise 
could sing the legend of my father Llyr, 
so-called exalted prisoner of Britain?
deep sea

What noble bardic lyrics 
could honour my brother Bendigeidfran, 
ruler of lost lands and mountains?
blessed raven
	beloved king
		colossal defender

What calculated words of truth
could reveal my husband Matholwch, 
empty king who wooed and deceived me?
deceitful diplomat 
      selfish seducer
		mythic monster

And what unspeakable cries of horror
could expose my half-brother Efnysien, 
the traitorous disrupter?
deceitful trickster 
          devious mutilator
	           sadistic murderer
These are the words of the men who 
sired me,
   defended me,
               betrayed me, 
		        tormented me, 
                               and silenced me.

They are not your words and
I will not teach them to you.

Instead, I will ask you to teach me 
your words, dear starling:

Words of freedom and flight
             that will slip our bonds and
take us higher 
                and higher
above the spires 
                        of the trees
        until only the breeze 
is our master.

Words that float and shift
          and pull 
             and dip 
     and slip
into the aether.

Words that seek our flock
     to find and form 
              in sunset murmurations 
that whirl and switch and
                                twirl and twist
      in a dance of carefree joy 
and truth.

            Words to let loose
        these vengeful thoughts
      and set us both free
   to seek 
sweet liberty.


Image source: Two starlings - Diane Perazzo


  1. I can feel the emotion in which you wrote this. the pride and love, pain, sorrow, betrayal. Beautiful in its love and sadness.

      1. In reading Ancestor Heart Song, the image I received was an individual sitting by a campfire surrounded by the thousands of ancestors sitting with the individual in support and love.

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