By Mary Montague
REED BUNTING Emberiza schoeniclus: from a sequence after the species’ singing styles
(2) I Sing Me To More Myself
I begin in the dark / as I began in My / own dark unformedness / making a syllable / after a syllable / after a syllable / which is the kind of faith / that taught Me mastery / but form too strictly held / becomes tired doggerel / for oh / She desires variety / and a syllable / after a syllable after / a syllable is / interesting / so I revise / and I keep revising / and all that / repeated revising grows / captivating / even unto Myself / it seems I won’t escape / this enchantment of My making / I am enthralled / driven into / out of / My own determination / and I know / the seasons’ stories / I recall / those callow lessons that inform / My vital waking / from warm underwing / blinking / into night’s gloat / with dawn / a dream of drowse / I rehearse / My phrases silently / as the wind palavers / through phragmites / that steady seethe / whispering / goading / as I sway alongwith / clung by My / belly-snuggle-down-feather-swathed / feet clenched / around My steadfast perch / stem amongst stem / no over-sound / just this vast / I covet / of yet-no-song / insisting / that I / quell shrivelled crop and hollow gizzard / that I / risk Owl’s soundless / cut-off My name / lost My song gone / I am brave / and I know the trade-offs / I will sing / sudden-chill legs / decision / has straightened My tarsi / hallux-grip unreflexing / clutched toes relaxing / shuffle-fluff-shudderwing / I am moving / this is how / flit-clamber / imperative / flutter-up-reed-stalk / or is that devotion? / cue furtive rustlenestle / almost unconsciously / She is listening / translates / roost-perch to song-post / My first My best / banner of seedhead bristling / applause / reed-bed’s expanse / hush / Me / braced / gaping / My syrinx throbs / air to breath to air / pitched / My NAME / slashing the dark / flung My Song / snarking through quiet / every he and she hearing / again before more / praise Me proclaiming / singular skilfuller song without ceasing I / am selfing My most Me
The reed bunting has several singing styles, including ‘dawn song’ (2), which is the continuous singing of complex slow-tempo songs by paired males before sunrise. An identifying syllable, unique to each individual bird, is woven through this singing style.