Of Feathers, Of Flight
…if I look up into the heavens I think that it will all come right …
and that peace and tranquility will return again.
– Anne Frank
That spring, a baby jay fell from its nest,
and we took it to Mrs. Levine, who told
us the mother would know our hands and
never take it back. Spring that year was a
cardboard box, cries for eyedropper food –
feather-stalks stretched into wings. We
knew, of course, that we couldn’t keep it.
(Later, we would mark the spot with stones
and twigs – where the bird fell, where we
let it go – and sometimes, stopped in the
middle of play, would point and say, there,
right there.) The day we freed it, it beat, a
heart-clock (wound and sprung in Ruth
Levine’s old hand) that, finally, finding
the sky, flew higher than all the briars
strung like metal barbs above the fence –
a speck of updraft ash and gone. Heaven,
fuller then for one small bird, spread its
blue wing over us and the tree and Mrs.
Levine who, breathing deeply, raised her
numbered arm to the light and moved her
thumb over each fingertip as if she could
feel to the ends of her skin the miracle
edge of freedom, of feathers, of flight.
– from What Matters (Welcome Rain Publishers, 2011)
First Published: Merton Seasonal, 2007
Merton Poetry of the Sacred Prize, 2007