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The Possibilities for Wings

ISSUE:  Winter 2007

How often have the customs of strangers
Silenced me into dreaming their beliefs.
In Java, for example, some people
Insist the souls of suicides return
In the bodies of crows, while in Scotland,
Souls of the lonely flee to butterflies.

In Pennsylvania? In this town where death
Belongs to those with names I’ve said, the souls
Of the ordinary are cries called out
And gone into an afternoon of rain,
Leaving me to wish winged things for the friend
Whose heart has failed, the friend who killed himself
In his meticulously sealed garage.

In my back yard? I’m talking to the friend
Who, like me, has sidestepped the terrible,
And even, from time to time, laughs aloud,
Neither of us, not yet, fluttering off
In moths or whatever we might predict
For our futures, the possible wings for
Depression, jealousy, the waste of hours.

Choose one? he asks, and I say the poorwill,
The only bird that hibernates, waking,
After months, to flight. Yes, he answers, good.
Overhead, just now, a small plane pierces
The air, and I imagine both of us
On board, becoming birds that seem to fly
Without love of anything but ourselves,
Shaping our fear against the summoned sky.


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