Magpies

One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl,
Four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret,
Never to be told.
Eight for a wish,
Nine for a kiss,
Ten for a bird,
You must not miss.


I saw seven birds overhead while walking this morning, and was reminded of an old nursery rhyme about magpies.

I don’t know if kids learn nursery rhymes anymore. They were a sort of an ancestral link, much like various proverbs and sayings are. This country is rich in many cultural traditions, this particular one is either Scottish or English, but nursery rhymes are a common phenomenon across many cultures.

At any rate, I remembered that “seven” was for “a secret / never to be told.” So I won’t.

One that I occasionally still hear, is

Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace,
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go,
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for a living,
But the child who is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonnie and blithe and good and gay.


For the record, I was born on a Monday. If “fair” means “light-skinned; prone to sunburn” this is no doubt accurate, but I’m not sure that is the intended meaning. I feel more like a Thursday’s child, truthfully. I have very far to go, and the same indeterminate time to get there everyone else has.


I gave the bad news: how the older gentleman we’d always been so fond of had suffered a stroke, was being moved to hospice, and was not expected to live. The voice on the other end of the phone seemed shocked — talking about what a horrible and lonely week it had been: trying to make friends, but not really connecting; trying to live healthy, but wondering if it was even worth it; wanting to move, but without the money to do it or even a hope of ever earning it.

On wanting hormone replacement therapy. On wanting to be accepted.

One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl,
Four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret,
Never to be told.
Eight for a wish,
Nine for a kiss,
Ten for a bird,
You must not miss.


One for sorrow. For who we are, and what we must face.

Two for joy. All joy to all of you, wherever you can find it.

Three for a girl / Four for a boy. Especially for all of those who feel they were not born as they should have been.

Five for silver / Six for gold. Hope for all those who despair of ever having enough of either.

Seven for a secret / Never to be told. Safety and security for all who remain tethered to their secrets.

Eight for a wish / Nine for a kiss. To hope and love, two of the very greatest of all things.

Ten for a bird / You must not miss. To magpies.

May you all find them, today, in exactly the right number.

Author: Sibelius Russell

Sibelius Russell (a/k/a/ Owen "Beleaguered" Servant) lives a life of whimsical servitude -- whatever that means.

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