Dream of Flight

Ravens at play

Watching the ravens at play Saturday in the air currents above the buildings of downtown Anchorage put me in mind of this poem.

Dream of Flight

She kicked past a snow berm shaped like the shroud
of the fallen roller-blader she’d been
last summer. She was as graceless now —
the snow was wet and heavy and stuck
in clumps to the bottoms of her skis,
preventing her rhythmic glide. Her dog
bounded up a steep incline
and barked laughter at her as she herringboned
awkwardly up the slope. At the top
she rested. The arches of her feet ached.
She took off her mittens. Her coat was too hot.

Above she heard a call: kloo-klok
a raven, the first she’d seen this winter —
then two, no, three — five — eight — nine — eleven —
a festival of black wings that swept over the trees
to wheel and tumble over the snow-covered marsh.

The dog yelped at her to come on!
but her eyes trailed the ravens’ game across the air —
not stiff-winged, combustive, engine-powered,
but powered by muscle, the downbeat of feathers,
the thrust of wings on wind.

Without thought she opened her coat, her shirt,
and bared her breasts to the cold air.
She laughed to see them harden with muscle,
cover over with down, then shaggy black feathers.
Her arms sprouted feathers, her bones hollowed,
and with three hops she took to the air,
her astonished dog chasing after her.

[October 25, 1994]

More pics of today’s festival of black wings:

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