Looking back at the words of yesteryear. In 2007, I was enrolled in a study abroad program called “Sustainable Development and Social Change in Central America.” While in El Salvador studying Liberation Theology with a nun from New Jersey named Sister Peggy, spending time with rural communities, I wrote this poem.
Like some humans and chickens, some stories
are ground-dwellers, peck peck pecking
at tossed handfuls of dried words,
resigning faith to the pale hand
dipping in the frame, the sky
a blue door locked. Down-eyed stories
with craned necks, they are not life stories,
because a life story looks up, to
the sky our window, lulling senses
to marinate in so much
winged metaphor, to the sun,
to the moon man, beckoning us
to our front yard of the universe;
a life story is a view.
Like sky birds, life stories
glide and jag and twist all of it
together, we watch them rewrite
the air and rename gravity,
flying through altitudes for death
and the hatch, clouds and mountains,
and not for productive efficiency.
I have been hiking countries and decades
and high elevations for these airborne
stories, glued my wide eyes to flocks
of words tumbling back my head,
flying circles and singing boleros,
grabbing me in their talons, higher
with them, I’ve grown dizzy
from the height, how I’ve risen
in their talons and their muscled wings,
I’m rising in their stories
and their stories rise in me; I don’t know
what I know but I know that we are rising.
From the seascapes, from the thumping,
from the rolling green and granite,
I’m gasping from these muscles
and I’m grateful for the air.
There is music dancing skyward,
notes are bouncing round the towers,
verbs are raining from the heavens
in this stormy, windy spring.
A life story has no conclusion
but action. There is no freedom
but in freeing flocks into your bones, light
bird bones, letting their glide pick up
your elbows like a marionette,
plunk you in oceans, falling and
and falling you into the round, round world,
to fill your lungs of salt and faith.