Posted by: Gray | November 17, 2014

A Poem for Ashley Bryan: “When Blackbird Came to Visit”

Recently the artist Ashley Bryan’s lifetime of extraordinary work was celebrated with the opening of a center housing his art (see http://ashleybryancenter.org/ ). To commemorate this, a really engaging, informative, beautiful exhibit of his work documenting it and his life was installed at the Blum Gallery at College of the Atlantic Blum. In the Human Ecology Core Course at the College in which I am one of the team teachers this fall, Ashley came and talked about his  life and his work — and inspired us all in a host of ways. I have tried to capture some of the portion of that inspiration I received in the poem presented below — along with an audio version of it shared here — hoping it will encourage anyone not yet familiar with his incredibly life affirming art and children’s books to look them up as quick as they can 😉

”When Blackbird Came to Visit”

for Ashley Bryan

by Gray Cox

10/31/14

Blackbird came in.

He was full of color

Like a huge bowl full of  M&Ms

Brimming over beneath a rainspout

That was catching all the brilliant candies pouring down

— pouring down in a shower of unending bounty

from the Goddess of  Joy and Delight

who was splashing rainbows of  excitement over every  single one of  us!

Blackbird  said “Repeat after me!”

And then sang out loud as could be:

“My People are a Beautiful People!”

And suddenly we were all singing:

“My People are a Beautiful People!”

And  all the colors of all our feathers

were touched and trembling with  his inky black ,

And then we all sparkled like rainbows

Carved into a wooden block by a divinely inspired hand,

And that Blackbird, he was that hand,

Swirling in a dance as he lifted up his wings, circling into the sky,

To brush the tips of his wings around the edge of the Sun

And brush the tips of his wings around  the cotton of the Clouds

And brush the tips of his wings around the edge of the Moon

— and he brushed his feathered back

all over the Night that was  coming into the Sky

And it made the Stars sparkle twinkle beam

like the Eyes of Gods piercing through sea glass on a beach

that stretched out into the endless Ocean of the Night

— that Ocean of Night that was so full of color and so full of  light

Because it was as Black and Beautiful as the Universe at its very beginning

when It was just a Baby about to Burst into Life.

And we all wanted to be born like that!

And grow up to be children just like that!

— Be Children Bursting with Life like  Blackbird!!

And all we could think was: “Slap our Bottoms and Let’s Get Going!”


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