“Blackbird Song” by Randy Lundy
A finalist for the High Plains Book Award for Poetry, “Blackbird Song” is the third collection from the Canadian Cree writer Randy Lundy. It is a haunting meditation on the elemental aspects of existence: love, loss, memory, and knowing. It is the work of a master poet who elegantly directs us to the natural world for solace during our human journey.
Lundy sublimely blends Native wisdom with Eastern and Western philosophies, effortlessly reimagining Cree traditions, Platonic tenets, and Buddhist-like koans. Consider the poem “Surrender,” a rumination not only on aging and its discontents, but on the very mystery at the heart of existence. “It is autumn again,” Lundy writes. “You do not know/how you came to be here.” Knowing does not come from “rushing somewhere/you could never name, on business/you never understood,” but rather in a moment of exquisite epiphany, “on the brittle grass, beneath the bowing apple-heavy branches.” This communion delivers a releasing bewilderment in which one realizes that “you may have been mistaken/every moment of your life until now.” Surrendering certainty makes a profound transformation possible: the ability to give up that “dull ache/that has been your soul.”
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These poems encourage us to see the natural world “with another kind of eye” and discern the wisdom it freely offers. We grieve our aging and our losses, but the bloom “wilts and drops/without sadness, nothing resembling/nostalgia or regret.” Seasons, animals, weather, and land are all continually present in these poems because they both show us how to cope with the slings and arrows of ordinary fortune and offer us access to a supreme holiness. The birds that flit and float and flutter throughout this collection are both charming inhabitants of the skies and emissaries from heaven, earthly angels, connecting us to divinity.
These poems are prayers and songs and metaphysical yearnings inviting us to consider a more profound way of knowing and being.
Danell Jones is a writer and scholar. Her most recent book “An African in Imperial London: The Indomitable Life of A.B.C. Merriman-Labor” is a finalist for the 2019 High Plains Book Award for Nonfiction.