At the Frontier


The blackbird sings at
the frontier of his music.
The branch where he sat


marks the brink of doubt,
is the outpost of his realm,
edge from which to rout


encroachers with trills
and melismatic runs sur-
passing earthbound skills.


It sounds like ardor,
it sounds like joy. We are glad
here at the border


where he signs the air
with his invisible staves,
“Trespassers beware”—


Song as survival—
a kind of pure music which
we cannot rival.

– A.E. Stallings, “Blackbird Etude”


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