When I start writing, I never know where the poem will take me. I began “Bird in Flight” on a plane heading to my home state. Using the sestina form with 6 end words repeating is structured, yet ultimately freeing. This poem won an award from the Portland, Oregon National League of American Pen Women and is in my latest book, Split Poems (Kelsay Books, 2014). One of the final poems in the collection, it is jubilant, empowering those who have suffered through loss to become a “bird in flight.” — Lorraine Walker Williams
* * *
This morning I roll my suitcase to the door,
shutter the house and key the lock,
a morning alive with challenge—
land-line dead, car’s oil light on as I drive,
airport shuttle loads my bag
without me. I am a bird in flight
migrating north to where I was born. A flight
that finds me beginning to close a door
on a life lived at the shore. No bag
can be packed with such memories. No lock
will prevent brine breeze, sugar sand driving
me backward to the child at low tide. A challenge
of rising emotion lashed by tears. A challenge
to cross borders, tip my wings in flight,
my spring plumage smooth, aerodynamic, drives
altitude riding thermals. Through cloud a door
opens, I soar …, begin to unlock
breath, eyes clear— pain I place in a bag.
Bird in flight, testing height, no longer dragging a bag
miles between storms, wind and rain. Challenged,
blown off-course, I rest in the arms of a tree near a lock
that opens onto calm seas. Flight
lands beyond Neverland, key left in the door.
I hear a bird calling my name. So driven
am I that I glide wings wide, and drive
to the nearest bird station, carry the past in a bag.
A bird bag, light as a feather, collides into the door.
I release the cord letting feathers float and fly! No challenge,
they scatter like prayers in avian god flight,
swirling and settling somewhere locked
beyond heartbreak and dungeon of dreams, locked.
I rise through air, breathe deep, desire driving
me to spread my wings and take flight,
soar, landing near eucalyptus, no baggage.
Inhale the scent, a forest to explore challenges.
Someone is waiting, open the door.
My door has no lock, no bag contains me.
Drive me beyond boundaries, challenge my bliss.
I am a bird in flight.
* * *
Lorraine Walker Williams is the author of Split Poems (Kelsay Books 2014), Fire in the Grass, Paradise Found and Near Water. Twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Lorraine’s poetry has been read and recorded at the Library of Congress. Named “Literary Artist of the Year” by the Gulf Coast Coast Writers Association, she’s received first prize awards from the National League of American Pen Women and Artists Embassy International. The creator and chair of ArtPoems, a collaboration among poets and artists, Lorraine also writes a column online for the Santiva Chronicle.