Evidence of Flight

by Patricia Karamesines
for Brad K.

And there’s a whole life in that, in knowing that the sun is there.
~Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Dragonfly by Pearson Scott Foresman public domain

Chancy, is flight, an omen’s
flutter in the unsettled air
from angles where we least
expect a challenge. Invention,
they say, of primordial insects
aspiring to high haven above
raking tooth and claw. Accident,
is flight, of last-chance leaps
to crest battlements of gravity’s
grubbing keep. That such least
creatures found loopholes in
law pillorying them to their
places in a food chain. Then
in their thoraxes, more frangible
than flesh, composed arias
of survival, buzzing themselves
loose. The miracle, is flight,
when four hundred million years
ago, some humble bug got itself
wings, and with wings, ascension.
Hard thing it may be to admit,
the humankind taking credit
for all triumphs over nature,
but, with flight, some strain
of early dragon-just-turned-fly
choreographed the first steps of
the dance away, escape velocity.

Since then, only passably
a cleverness stirring wonder
still, flying has begun a
plummet to the mundane.
As if it flapped too often in
our faces, as if we batted it
away, knocking askew
primary feathers of its charm.
Flying has taken on airbus
seating humdrum, even as it
dilates time, if by twinklings.
Who thinks of that, falling
asleep on a New York to
London red-eye. Who wonders,
looking up from an expanse
of midnight sea at the sleeper’s
lights strobing across time-
worn shimmer. Flying
might even be missed, high
overhead as it often goes.
It might even seem invisible,
eye-bother, the smudge-on-air
that is hummingbird wings.

But evidence of flight
abounds, confiding all.
Evidence of flight is proof
of sun and Earth, of suites
of creature gadgets we call
“ life.” It seems a cut of
nothing. This beggar shadow
crossing sun-fancy lawn.
That splash of liquid dim
flowing over sand, to skitter,
ashen quicksilver, away.
Each minor eclipse augers
new depth of presence:
intersects between light’s
peregrine ripples that wing,
their perch, daylight Earth, and
something that moves between.

Evidence of flight banks
at right angles up sides
of buildings, skims roofs,
nosedives to sidewalks but
doesn’t crash. I’m meaning
fleeting darkness that aircraft,
clouds, hot air balloons paint
over towns, daub onto grain
fields or blanks of open
road. On some days, autumn
leaves that float their shade
with them to the ground.
Debris wind raises from
trash heaps and spins in
vortices to trail bits
of dark detritus across
pastures, startling horses.

But mostly, I speak of
birds—ravens, starlings,
geese—breaking the
constancy of a moment’s
shine. I’m thinking, their
shadows shafting through
water to rumble over creek
gravel and cobblestones,
where the cadis fly secrets
itself. Of brief lacunas
in sunbeams birds cause
when they strike them.
Of the black buzzard,
great blue heron, purple
finch, glossy ibis—the dash
of their grey semblances.
Of barn swallows’ airy
cat’s cradles, looping flight
over fingers in a breeze,
peppering the bright acre
below with ingenious figments.
Of eagles, bald or golden,
clouds wheeling ‘round them.

Just a skiff of flight’s
foreshadow arcing
at the line between
blinkered awareness
and its brink, where
minds without wings
do not like to go. But
if we commit to our
slight notice, make rough
estimate, shift our gaze
outside the paragon sun.
If we bring to bear in
looking all names for
things that make them
visible to us, then stretch
toward one more. If we let
our eyes just—just—adjust.
There it is: that lone hawk
almost higher than we
can see, architect of the
shadow. It comes out of
the sun as if newly forged.
Winter ground reflects
silver snow light onto
its white breast feathers
and underwings, giving
them grain and gloss.
The bird’s flight scrolls
out in a ribbon of slow turns
across blue eternity, not
a wing in motion, a clock
spring uncoiling in a thermal
of event. It adds not a single
second’s infinitesimal tick,
but you feel the moment
deepen, overflow. Beauty so
incendiary it burns you alive.

Evidence of uncanny doings
we call flight appear as
fleeting shadow. Around
the silhouette of even
one flying thing rings an
aureole of sun and Earth,
life going a thousand ways
unwitnessed. Chance
glancing, risk the jolt of full
spectrum looking. This will
redeem every uncertainty,
as do all natural wings
square to sudden flurries
whenever a damn fool
unknots cords at the neck
of Aeolus’s ripstop purse,
cram-full of erratic winds.

© 2019 Patricia Karamesines

 

 

©2019 Patricia Karamesines

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