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  • Writer's pictureSarah McCartney

one for sorrow…

one for sorrowtwo for joythree for a girl four for a boyfive for silversix for goldseven for a secret, never to be toldeight for a wish nine for a kissten for a bird you must not miss

Magpie Pica pica, one who chatters, one who compulsively hoards small objects. You might say I am a bit of a magpie. I was born in the sixties on the edge of Stoke Gabriel, a beautiful village on the River Dart. With a back garden that merged with the hay fields I didn’t know what trespass meant and I roamed freely in the countryside where I lived, learning names for the plants and animals around me. Our road was a cul-de-sac and if I wasn’t out the back in the fields I was out the front in the road. I remember a magpie. A very cheeky, tame magpie. When a friend brought me a magpie last week I thought about the magpie from my childhood. How it used to frighten me as it chased me on my little white bike.

We all know the song and there are many folk beliefs about this bird. Feared and regarded as a bird of ill omen in this country, in China it is a bringer of Joy. It is a bird we hardly notice as it is so common. Just the black and white bird with the long tail.

Oh but it is not just a black and white bird. It is truly magnificent and quite exotic when you really look. It has deep prussian blue and inky indigo wings. It has an iridescent bronze and copper green tail. The feathers on it’s back and around its neck are dense, soot black, absorbing all light and soft as silk. The white feathers of its body are transparent, softy layered and creating subtle grey shades as they overlap the wings.

I love this bird and the more I drew and painted him the more colours I saw and my mind wandered to long ago times and places. There are more drawings on my FB page. I only had him a few days and the drawings I did are nothing special but the time I spent drawing him was special. This is why I draw the dead birds that come to me. I can’t just cut them up and take things from them without first spending time knowing and seeing their beauty.

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