Brother Magpie

Cloudy skies cast a dull shadow on the vast flat lands as Magpie walked down the side of the road, looking for a worm he’d spotted from high above. For some reason it eluded him now he was close by. His little head bobbed back and forth as he searched this way and that. But he found no worm.

Magpie shot to the skies to try again, scanning the scrub for food. From a distance the earth was a seething mass of live fresh food, there were wrigglers everywhere. But time and time again when Magpie got close to the ground all the creatures would disappear.

Becoming tired and so very hungry, he started to despair. The more he looked the weaker he got from all the wasted effort.

In his toil and frustration magpie paced the gravel road beside the highway, in a manner more akin to a person than a bird. His little claws hurt as he smashed them into the ground but his anger had no other way out. Up and down he strode, his attention shifting from needing to feed to needing to vent. His stomp got louder and heavier, his scrawny little feet grew thick and heavy as talons, the matchsticks he had for legs grew thick and strong. His tiny shoulders broadened with rage and the spark of discontent lit a fire in his worn eyes.

His growing energy rumbled through the land. The ground started to loosen and shake with every stomp. Magpie felt his power growing, his anger rising. He stopped in his tracks which had now etched their way deep into a long line in the gravel. His beak rose high to the heavens as the churning tide in his chest rose up through his throat and unleashed itself into the sky. In Magpie’s mind he had released an almighty roar, only the memory of the sound he had made was a dainty musical chortle. He was perplexed that his inner and outer worlds did not seem to match. And any food he hoped to scare out of the ground would now surely know he was hunting and go and hide in the ground once again.

Only… only…

Curious ears drew curious creatures from the depths of their hidey holes as the almighty bird beast stated its business. The call drew them like magnets to the ether, awaiting the sacrifice they knew would dawn upon them soon, when the time was right.

In his surprise Magpie’s hunger had fallen to confusion. “But… why have you all come out now?” he asked, “For surely you know I will eat you.”

“Well yes we do now that we have heard your call.” Piped up an earthworm just a few feet away.

“Aah…. So you have come even though I may eat you?”

“Ha-ha… we have come SO you may eat us” in response to Magpie’s blank stare Worm continued. “We know why we are here. To feed and nourish the earth and her creatures. We are all just part of the cycle of life. As you are my friend.”

“Gah!” he tried to roar but just chortled, now in even more despair. “But how am I to eat you now that you have a voice? I cannot eat a friend. Now I will surely starve.” His solemnly shook his head.

“Is it not more humbling to eat a friend you have thanked than a foe you have not?”

Magpie stopped to think about that. “I don’t know I’ve never eaten a friend before.”

“Oh yes you have,” said worm, “You just haven’t known it. Every creature you eat has given its life as a gift. As part of the cycle of life. And it will continue to do so if you choose.”

“Well, this feels awkward, but ok, how do I thank the worms and other creatures I am about to eat?”

“You just did! Simply be grateful in your heart for all you are receiving and it will be available to you.”

“I see, well I don’t know if I can eat you now we’ve had this chat.”

“Well, that’s up to you my friend.” Said worm as it went back about its business of wriggling about in the rocky sand.

With a sigh Magpie resolved to take only as much as he needed. He flew skyward once more with the last of his energy, filled his heart with thanks at the bounty below. He glided gently back down to sustain himself, in gratitude, as part of life’s great cycle.


Written by Tjoni Johansen and Nonna in the Northern Rivers region on NSW.


Copyright 2017 all rights reserved

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