Bird in Flight by Lorraine Walker Williams

Lorraine-Walker-WilliamsWhen 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


* * *

migratory-birdBird in Flight by 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.


14 Comments on Bird in Flight by Lorraine Walker Williams

  1. thanks, Lorraine……your perspective is so well explained in this poem. Soar! the sky is wide open for you and all of your friends can come along. C

  2. Holly McEntyre // March 26, 2014 at 10:58 am // Reply

    Lovely, lilting, lifting.

  3. Vicki Hellmer // March 26, 2014 at 11:22 am // Reply

    I love the transition from feeling closed in and locked up to feeling unbound — and it’s perfect that you’ve used this form to accomplish that.

  4. Dear Lorraine – You’ve become a master of the sestina form. I don’t know anyone who does it better than you. To combine the structure with a message so clear is no easy task. I have been reading a poem a day from “Split” and must say that you are nothing short of wonderful. “The End of Love” broke my heart. Much love to you, Eva

  5. david staver // March 26, 2014 at 11:38 am // Reply

    This beautiful poem gives the breath of freedom to the author who struggles so much through the other insightful and creative poems of ‘Split.’ For someone reading the book, reading ‘Bird in Flight’ amounts to jumping ahead, but it gives that same reader something else to look forward to on the pages of ‘Split.’

  6. Cheryl Fausel // March 26, 2014 at 11:47 am // Reply

    Wonderful expression…understood the sentiment, but loved the hope!

  7. WALLACE M KAIN // March 26, 2014 at 6:30 pm // Reply

    Lorraine. I read your poem as a later chapter in “Split.” Fly on.

  8. Bev. Farrell // March 26, 2014 at 10:35 pm // Reply

    Lorraine, Love this poem, full of emotion and give the reader a real sense of release, freedom and possibility.

  9. Andrea Perisho // March 27, 2014 at 7:18 am // Reply

    Lorraine, Loved your new book Split Poems. Stayed up too late reading it, I couldn’t put it down. The poems and the story they told were heart-breaking yet the book ended with hope and your eagerness to face the future. A great book for all of us. Thanks for using your poetry to document your journey.

  10. you’re flying high

  11. What a lovely poem! Congratulations on all of your accomplishments and having the ability to “fly!”

  12. Marya Small Parral // March 28, 2014 at 3:27 pm // Reply

    This poem is lovely, a beautiful expression of newfound freedom wrought from great pain. And the use of the sestina form is absolutely masterful!

  13. The poetry sets you soaring.

  14. Lorraine Walker Williams’ poem, Bird in Flight, has left me speechless and teary eyed. Such beauty. Raw emotion. Freedom of expression, feelings. Since I too, have had a loss, I lived every syllable, every line.
    Not that one lives for awards, but I think this is an award winner.

    Juanita Torrence-Thompson, Editor-in-Chief, Mobius, The Poetry Magazine

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