Pushcart Prize winner Laura Rodley‘s latest books are Turn Left at Normal by Big Table Publishing, Counter Point by Prolific Press, and As You Write It, Lucky 7, printed by Leveler’s Press.
Nothing but pinions holding me
to this earth, the thrill of flight,
swooping, green of leaf and blue of sky,
and, oh, the landing, the taking off.
Nothing but air between each breath,
the timing chain of my heart,
the pistons of aorta chugging,
heard only through amplification;
what of my own anvils that pick up
their insistent incessant necessary thrum,
what of my own heart longing for more.
Nothing but rushing of wind between each feather,
how staying aloft is not a miracle to me
only the two-legged walking below, peering up.
I know where I am going, the longing pulls me.
Snow on my wings I keep flying.
Snow on my wings I left it too late.
Snow on my wings I huddle.
Snow on my wings I wait till morning.
What rafters above me, the bulbous clouds,
what oceans below me, the rivers, lakes,
what plenitude I devour, sumac seeds, rosehips,
what succor I keep seeking, swallowing
my own body weight ten times over.
So hot I stayed too long.
So quick the cold weather, I got confused.
So fast the frost, I spun home, too few of us,
so green the trees, saying, it’s not time yet, but it is.
So generous the wind when I do not know the word.
So swift the currents when I know nothing but flight.
So soft the clouds when I bump into them, keening,
so hard the tree branch where I spend my night.
Echos through my feathers sing me the longest song,
a breeze of chimes I’ve heard since first flight.
I huddled near my nest, looking lost on the ground,
but, in truth, I have never been lost, I can always hear you.
I have never been lost, I can always hear you,
I have never been alone, I can always hear you,
I never ceased flying, the chimes singing to me,
I can never tell you how glorious you are, my beloved.
Soon I will leave you but I don’t know when that will be.
I will take my last flight without knowing its leap.
Like my feathers, I was born with this imprint of leaving.
Like my longing that steers me, my leaving has always been before me.
I’ve been flying towards it all my life,
soaring into and through eternity since I pecked out of the egg.
And back again, I always come back, this imprint of leaving upon me.
Until I leave again, without knowing.
I know nothing of hope, but everything of flight.
Two parts hope, one part beauty
wrapped inside this gold tinged paper
four parts memory, one part gratitude,
sending the package in time for Christmas,
the sliding board of enlightenment
the offering of inner light
three parts gentleness, one part tough love
one quarter teaspoon cinnamon,
one quarter teaspoon cloves,
the opening of the shells encased
around our bodies and wrapped
inside these packages we offer
with such great expectation.
Cut from reams of white satin sprang Lawrence
of Arabia, my son Joseph fenc-
ing with a sword made of rough-sawn maple,
a yellow band round headpiece, a staple
from the house to hold it all in one place,
curtain cording his belt, the saving grace,
his sandals of brown leather geared for sand
even as hot as desert, Lawrence’s land.
“Awrence,” he yodeled through the house, so tall
I had to stand on a stool, fashion all
on top his head, long flowing headdress, sheikh’s
gear changing a gentle boy, now not meek,
then out the door with friends with worthy cars,
too old for trick-or-treating, too young for bars.