Some of us are always seeking water Some of us stay home
180 to 197° our journeys internal, domestic
195 feet but not the bottom Forced by experience
wherever we go
Dominica, Lesser Antilles to grapple with what’s foreign
grayish-blue water bubbling up a feeling that challenges
in a cloud of vapor all we thought we knew,
this boiling cauldron assaults our senses
and we’ve embarked, spun off
a trek to get there
13 K. from the nearest road unbound from familiar
past sulfur springs, over mountains
through gorges and fear
across the Valley of Desolation to transformation.
Across the backyard “I didn’t know it was dangerous”
early morning off the dock
steam rises from the lake, July air Family become strangers
46° calls my father separate souls we see for the first time.
through lily pads and reeds Chance encounters
Largemouth Bass and their shadows that trigger pictures from the past
deadheads stacked in layers of meanings
touching down in messages from those nearly forgotten
foot sucking muck shape-shift any sense we thought we’d made
habits of seeing no longer work.
kicking waves with fins
suddenly swimming “You’ve felt this, I’m certain.”
across flat water
over the ocean wall, 1000 foot freefall, untethered
whirlybirding in desperate hope
of new understanding.
it’s still water.
II. THE LONG FLIGHT
Hummingbirds balance on the line Evolutionary biologists explain,
between clothes pins and feeder it's preparation, persistance,
poised to fly south for winter fervent attention
fueled with insects and nectar to greater purpose.
In trees along the way The phone rings, bad news
they slip into a state of torpor voices come unbidden
when they sleep, some awaken mystery turns the heart
upside down and the journey begins.
Revving up their wings Sky-clogging flocks
from 50 to 500 in the morning of last words, lost dreams,
off they go again pulsing ruby-throated beauty
for five to ten days until memories stored in muscle
wait like little birds for release
they reach the Gulf
navigating their night flight by stars
Each bird must take this trip alone "I miss you already."
Flying in the company of others offers New landscapes and languages come
no protection. Predators don’t bother as comfort fades off in the distance.
with so small a prey Not as instinctual as birds'
Only one at a time What is the must of our migration?
can sip from the flower’s lip The reason we make this trip?
Flying alone presents adventure It will lure you out, or simply come
one misses in a flock and take you
when conversations from home amaze you, even with time, repel.
travel abroad, undisturbed Staying unchanged, impossible
by foreign words though journey's end still uncertain
Hummingbirds make this pilgrimage taking such risk for unknown reward
twice a year, testament to life force Trust. Telluric currents will guide you
No hesitation "Just gonna get there."
Each must go back to the source.
Edward Abbey wrote:
This is the most beautiful place on earth.
There are many such places.
Every man, every woman carries in heart
and mind the image of the ideal place
known or unknown, actual or visionary.
For me I'll take...
the fringe of steam still on the far shore Big Water, Dakota prairie,
Sun has not yet burned the stand New York City's glint,
of paper birch, bright white wherever you are...
Overhead Each are called
a pair of crows caw and must respond
as they jet fearfilled, into foreign country
through jackpine toward strength, untested
learning what we lack
Leaves in the front yard Tempered by a thousand trials
lie face down Some paint and pray
in the frost Some don't come back
the heart is
you may find your way home,
somewhere set down your sack and cross
another hemisphere the threshold.
If you return,
Blue footed booby birds parade bring a boon back for us
in their desert island dance bells and scarves, stories
Penguins, so rare they have no names.
stuntmen of the Galapagos,
torpedo beneath the waves World remade
of their Pacific
is where they plant their blue feet See how lightly you can live.
black fur shimmering with water.
-Susan Hawkinson & Loree Miltich