Updated: Feb 3
The magpie appeared on the day my friend died. The very moment in fact. But of course I didn’t know that at the time. The magpie strutted up the back steps and the through the open back door, on the her black chest is a stripe of grey. Her head came around the corner, tilted, questioning. Emblazoned
The phone would soon bring the news of death.
Last week was one of looming deadlines, kids starting high school, a job interview, a funeral, a boy in tears from bullying and an adult daughter in and out of emergency. Lurch forward, back, derail, get up. Revise, circle round, and a do-se-do.
A death is a full stop in the maelstrom, where we pause to grieve.
On the way home from my friend’s funeral I saw a baby on the tram. The baby gurgled and smiled taking such simple delight in the faces around her. My friend would have liked that. In the end we are remembered for the smiles we exchanged. Simple daily moments.
People die who want to live. People live who want to die. Is life for making sense of? We can arrange it into to stories or seek out signs but all along we continue to do the simple, the mundane and the absurd, in the face of it all.
The magpie at my door is hungry. I feed her and she bravely takes food from my hand. She is outside now, singing to the sky.
Shaun Tan print Magpie Meets Itself available from Art For Wildlife
Art for Wildlife is a year-long project producing open-edition art prints on the theme of Australian flora and fauna by some of Australia and New Zealand’s best-loved children's book illustrators. Conceived in the wake of the ecological disaster brought upon by the unprecedented 2019–2020 Australian bushfires, Art for Wildlife will provide ongoing fundraising support to Seed Indigenous Climate Youth Network and Bush Heritage Australia.