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A Little Like Can go a long way

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There is something special about writing a poem for someone.

I don’t consider myself a poet, but I have to admit that writing poems to help someone overcome a habit, to celebrate their birthday, to honour the birth of a child, to toast a marriage or engagement, or even to help guide someone grieve the death of a loved one, fills me with gratification.

For many years I have written for members of my family a poem on their birthday. (That is, my parents, two sisters, two nieces, and my wife.)

Yesterday was my youngest niece’s 6th birthday.

I have never before posted any of the poems I have written for others, but I find myself wanting to share this one. Perhaps because it’s less personal.

My niece is called Ava, and she likes to sing… that’s about as personal as it gets.

Here it is:

There was a little bird,
Who didn’t know how to sing.
Every time it opened its mouth,
Nobody heard a thing.

Its parents wanted to help,
But didn’t know what to do.
They even sought a wise owl,
And even she didn’t have a clue.

They gave it honey and lemon,
And told it to rest, be patient, and wait.
And on the day when it came to sing,
It tried for hours, staying up late.

When no sound left its busy mouth,
It flew off, in a rage.
It flapped its wings against the wind,
And, not looking, flew into a cage.

At first the bird was frightened,
Trapped!
“How am I going to get out?
I can’t even sing to get help,
Let alone shout!”

But then the bird heard something,
A sound that had a sweet ring.
For the cage was for a birthday girl,
Who really liked to sing.

She sang as she opened her presents,
Saying thank you for every one.
But when she came to the bird she stopped,
And asked it what was wrong.

The birthday girl listened
To the bird’s, woeful tale.
“Don’t worry, little bird,” she said.
“Just copy me, and you won’t fail.”

So the girl sang, and the bird listened,
And every time it tried,
To copy the young girl’s singing voice.
“Try again, bird, don’t be shy.”

“Sing as loud as you can,” she said.
“Don’t be afraid to be heard!
Your voice is extra special
Because it belongs to no other bird.”

The bird took a deep breath,
And finally let out a shrill.
The squirrels heard it in the trees,
And the sheep heard it on the hill!

The little bird was elated,
So happy now it could sing.
And the girl opened the cage and said,
“Now go, and do your thing!”

The little bird flew out,
And gave the girl a peck on her cheek.
And just before it flew off,
It said in a voice that wasn’t weak:

“I was a gift for you,
But you gave one to me.
So every birthday I’ll come to visit
With my friends and family.

“We’ll sing you happy birthday,
And bring a cake of good flavour.
And on the top the icing will say,
HAPPY BIRTHDAY AVA!”

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