Words On The Wing

The title of this post is the title of a series of poems written a couple of years ago as I was recovering from surgery, but I find that it applies very well to where I find myself right now. I am preparing for my part in a program at The Ogden Museum in New Orleans to take place one week from today on May 22. The program is in conjunction with an exhibit featuring Walter Anderson’s art and my part is called A Legacy of Wings. I shall perform several of the poems, all of which have been inspired by birds and/or flight. One of the poems begins “I have always been drawn to things that fly.” This is not too surprising a statement for a woman who has danced her way through life, nor for the daughter of an artist whose favorite subject matter for painting was birds. But writing these poems – seeing them as a means of letting my words take flight – was extraordinarily liberating. I have integrated these poems into other performances: reciting and dancing my way to completion, but this time the words may fly farther. Emboldened by recent voice lessons, I intend to sing the poems.

This drawing illustrates one of the poems that I hope to sing. It was inspired by the collision of an Indigo Bunting with one of the highly reflective windows of my house. It is emotionally and vocally challenging but is probably the deepest and most meaningful to me.

Narcissus And The Angel

Stunned to stillness

yet my heart still beats a delicate tom-tom in my breast,

breath and blood still do their lively dance.

How could it be that I lay still as death

indigo blue of feathers staining spring-green grasses?

Wings are limp

yet I fly toward myself.

Repeatedly the bird I fly to meet

flies toward me blinding me with beauty.

One moment rapt with gladness flying fast.

Now I lay motionless

still seeing and responding to enticement.

The merriment of my own species carries on

as I lie here suspended in my folly.

Now something moves

approaching heavily yet carefully.

Earth shifts beneath my body.

Merry singing has gone silent.

A colossal presence.

Voice speaking softly.

I do not recognize the sounds;

the tone bespeaks the language of the heart.

So when I sense my smallness cradled

close to a rhythmic beat so like my own

I feel the promise of persistent life

and I am trusting.

It is a soothing transport through familiar air

a setting down upon a surface that is tree

yet not quite tree.

Once more alone

not quite alone

I am calm and safely basking

in the warmth of sun.

Never have I felt more patient

never more surprised

to feel a stirring greater than

the stir of feathers in a breeze.

Then sudden rush of life’s return!

Then swift ascent above the trees!

And flying with me is the one I flew to meet.

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