Felicity Sidnell Reid

Shadows of Birds

Lullaby for a Maritime Archaic boy buried 7,500 years ago at L’Anse Amour, Labrador, in the earliest elaborate grave-site found so far in North America.


“Lay his fragile flute, my dears,

Safely wrapped in woven scraps,

Near his fingers, stilled at last.

Fever’s gone and peace returns,

Innocence replaces pain,

Once again my eyes can see

The buoyant youth, he left behind.”

Grief has frozen mother’s arms

About his body, cold as stones

Pushed and pulled by tidal waves.


Years of sea cold lullabies

Whispered in his salty ears,

Once his life had slipped away.

He’d been young, a traveler,

Loved companion at the hearth,

Where, one day, he took a bone,

The hollow shaft of some great gull

And whittled it into a flute.

Then wild music rocked the waves

And blew among the flocks of birds.


Great auks nested there, and terns

Spun in winds above the beach.

Out at sea the supple seals

Tossed their heads above the swell.

Winter, when the caribou

Stalked across the inland plains,

Called men to the common hunt.

But in summer, houses here,

Built of stone and roofed with hide,

Opened to them ample seas.


They buried him above the strait,

Behind his grave, the well known hills,

Before him the unchanging sea.

Spears, harpoons and walrus tusk

Lie beside his slender bones,

Red paint, pendants— and his flute.

His shade salutes all voyagers

Paddling past his tumulus.

And gulls still rise from racing waves

And cast their shadows on his grave.


Felicity Sidnell Reid lives in the Ontario countryside and is the author and co-author of several books for teachers and students. She writes poetry and fiction which have been published in anthologies and online publications. She has recently completed a novel about settlers in Northumberland County in the nineteenth century.


About Copperfield

Since 2000, The Copperfield Review has been a leading market for short historical fiction. Copperfield was named one of the top sites for new writers by Writer's Digest and it is the winner of the Books and Authors Award for Literary Excellence. We publish short historical fiction as well as history-based nonfiction, poetry, reviews, and interviews.
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