The Wings

I recall Joni Mitchell once said something about the pressure she felt in youth, a surely mounting pressure, to be great–to make one’s expression dance in unison with one’s soul—, and I say “mounting” because these pressures accumulate with the years. Time tends to carry on like the breath of a sad singer’s song; the phrase finished, the sounds produced, she must then gasp for air in the intervals, if to continue the tune.

My breath is sour, is sorrow. The flowers on the dining room table droop, the neighbors in the street below pack the car for a trip. The car is red and small, the engine starts up, they are off. My neighbor, with lanky calm legs, tall soul, slender and balding with an absolutely atmospheric expression about his face and forest limbs, is now off, in the company of a projected kind wife.

I want to name the birds in the sky, by spirit not by species. I see what they do when they land, less grand, less exalted on this ground of ours. They fold wings, use legs, wear this benign and faceless conduct, proving yet another doer, yet another public appearance, yet another bird on the damned ground.

I wonder what it’s like to fly over the sea on nothing but natural fuel. God, the view! Is it quiet up there? Is the noise a violent wind and collision with the clouds? Or is it the glorious horns in a voiceless song, or is the ocean’s roar so intense that it falls on and into itself, ever consuming its own sound. Does the bird, flying above, feel the weight of it too.

I needed to get out the other day, so I cycled south along the Amsteldijk. Fearing Too-Far-South at some point, I took a right and then a peaceful succession of turns that, looking back, I wish I had marked for remembrance. I flew across the countryside. One stretch in particular was a path formed for bliss. There was no empty coffee cup to assess, no drooping callas on a table top, no kindly neighbor in the street below, executing a trip. There was only me at the spinning, wholesome center of an inelegant universe, cycling there, open land splayed in every direction, wind and sun and scent so careful as the bow across the string of the violin, center stage. For one quick blip of time, I was no weight, no luggage, no accumulation, no one. I was the wings.



3 thoughts on “The Wings”

  1. Beautifully written. I’m glad you were able to “get away” if just for a brief time. Moments like that will get you through.


  2. I began reading “I called Joni Mitchell” wtf, she calls joni m. I do that a lot now than I’m older. You sound home sick? That too shall pass as you acclimate…


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