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Wednesday, July 09, 2014

The Starling in Her

i

we saw a starling
(the poem would require now I write flying)
but it was standing still; that medium-sized,
black songbird, when you pointed out its short,
triangular wings, and we watched its speckled plumage,
the flick of its short tail
as it rose in the air;

and we touched smiles
at how freedom lifts, and you told me how
starlings are kept as pets, for they can mimic
human speech; and I felt speechless,
at why love would cause us to cage
what was born to fly
(what the poem would now recognise as in the sky)

to separate it from its flock or nest,
with waiting mate and child at breast,
(and as I become emotional, so, too, does the poem
become more poetical) and we spoke how
fingers could in turn become a protective bed,
or bars that ensnare you, depending
on the intention you use to knead their bread;

of which the starling has no notion,
except to feed and fly, to live and breathe its motion
in the beauty given to this natural cry, and yet,
for its beautiful mimicry we would bind it
to a gilded floor, its little feet
chained to lie at our hands,
subservient to the whims of some loving human;

to train a thing so free to something
so degrading as to hop to an open palm,
for a moment out of the bars, or for token alms,
playing out its life as entertainment
to disembodied lives; and I was suddenly
so glad at the sight of that starling flying free,
and you were touched by the gladness in me;

you saw how I wanted to break every cage, pull aside
every bar that holds the beautiful to its steely mercy,
for it is unnatural to hold what nature
has given wings to touch the belly of every cloud;
they have parents, children, too, and families
in nests that would miss their cry;
and who needs a bird in the palm, anyway?

when they are worth more singing in the tree;
worth much more than mere mimicry;
and how does it feel to be the human who turns nests
into cages in the name of family?
for the sake of some misguided honour or duty,
which places importance on a man's heart
thought so overly special and separate;

ii

for why else were we made but to be thrown
into the tempest of freedom that living brings?
for man to choose freely to throw his own dignity
at the foot of woman; to lay himself down if he pleases
as cloak for her to walk upon, or -- as you do --
to wrap herself up and sleep securely trilling at his chest,
as the starling in this poem, close to her nest;

to watch her own sweet nature roam free,
to lift her up or bring her gently down as it will,
to merge soil and seed in fertile ground,
and let lovers freely reap the flowers sown
in the spring that blossoms in body and mind;
for it blooms all too briefly
to be stunted at the root by a winter overgrown;

for what is this importance we place on covering
her thoughts or beauty against her own choice?
why do we turn the surety of wisdom into violence?
is it love to cage a bird and only allow them
to breathe in between bars, songs half sung,
worse in memoriam of what they have never known:
is this what it means to love a woman?

to prize her body; her face as an object to possess,
to hide her from her own sense of self? how can anyone
want to cage a bird simply to love them enough
to breathe the same air they share? for love should be
the only force that holds the bird
beneath the wing to lift it higher, not to break
her voice to empty mimicry;

or to force her to cover when it should be
men who cover up that part of their minds that objectifies;
let honour be for the free thought that intensifies
the sanctity of life; allow the freedom for woman
to bloom as your wife; let love be the key
that unlocks the deed, not the fear never to see
her wings open fully in flight and free;

for no living thing is an object to be hidden
unless under willing privacy; we are here
(as you and I know) to bring our own purpose and value
to the life gifted to us: some will want the sky,
some will crave the sun; some will sing by moonlight,
and some will cage themselves in, too frightened
to fill their own beaks, or walk barefoot, head upright;

but why must the sun avoid the light?
if I have a daughter, the one who will treat her right
will be the one that loves her like I love her mother;
and my son shall love his partner like no other;
for he will know love is not caged in the skin;
he will love the things no one can touch or see within;
he will love the starling in her, flying freely back to him.

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