01 November 2011

away, away they must go

It was a cold fall morning, feeling for all the chill in the air just as November 1 should. As I walked baby pug down a side street and past a house with a bright red door and a For Sale sign out front, the birds above us chattered the solfege.

Do-re-mi, they said to one another, perched {a word made for birds, I tell you} in a tree that still had most of its leaves, which were finch-gold and full of glory and grace.

The leaves hid the birds; looking up into the branches spreading across the pink sky, all I saw were leaves and all I heard was birdsong, as full of glory and grace as the leaves hiding the little singers.

A movement then—was it me? Or the pug?

A movement—a signal from time immemorial, perhaps—set them off, and in one flap of their wings, they were away.

For just a moment, it seemed the tree was moving, flying away, lifting off. The birds were extended branches, and because of them, the tree stood taller, scratched more of the sky.

The small black birds had stopped singing, and now they were no longer hidden by the golden leaves. They were dotting the sky above me—away, away they must go.

The manipulation of air: that was all there was to hear as the birds aimed up and away. Wings moving air, and even in an instant, I thought of the beauty of physics and creation. Science and nature together {can they ever be apart?} give the illusion of magic at times.

All around me, gold pieces were falling, gently—a ballet of the season. The leaves felt released when the birds revealed themselves, and down the leaves fell as up the birds rose.

I stood in the midst of falling gold and heard the birds start singing again as they decided on a direction. This way, this way—they beckoned to each other.

And the leaves piled on the ground.

1 comment:

  1. This is poetry. It reminds me of this poetry by Alicia Suskin Ostricker:


    Tuwee, calls a bird near the house,
    Tuwee, cries another, downhill in the woods.
    No wind, early September, beeches and pines,

    Sumac aflame, tuwee, tuwee, a question and a faint
    But definite response, tuwee, tuwee, as if engaged
    In a conversation expected to continue all afternoon,

    Where is?—I’m here?—an upward inflection in
    Query and in response, a genetic libretto rehearsed
    Tens of thousands of years beginning to leave its indelible trace,

    Clawprint of language, ritual, dense winged seed,
    Or as someone were slowly buttoning a shirt.
    I am happy to lie in the grass and listen, as if at the dawn of reason,

    To the clear communal command
    That is flinging creaturely will into existence,
    Designing itself to desire survival,

    Liberty, companionship,
    Then the bird near me, my bird, stops inquiring, while the other
    Off in the woods continues calling faintly, but with that upward

    Inflection, I’m here, I’m here,
    I’m here, here, the call opens a path through boughs still clothed
    By foliage, until it sounds like entreaty, like anxiety, like life

    Imitating the pivotal move of Whitman’s "Out of the Cradle,"
    Where the lovebird’s futile song to its absent mate teaches the child
    Death—which the ocean also whispers—

    Death, death, death it softly whispers,
    Like an old crone bending aside over a cradle, Whitman says,
    Or the like the teapot in Elizabeth Bishop’s grandmother’s kitchen,

    Here at one end of the chain of being,
    That whistles a song of presence and departure,
    Creating comfort but also calling for tears.



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