Audio Poem from “This is What is Invisible”, #2 of 12

As a reminder, I’m posting an audio version of each of the 12 poems in my new collection This is What is Invisible.  This is the second posting, and it’s called “Sheer Desperate Hunger”:

Sheer Desperate Hunger

The young swallows are learning grace this morning
by failing. I mean their rough, difficult flight,
the way they flap too much,
not trusting the thin air to hold them,
the way they refuse to use the wind.
Easy flight isn’t natural.
The knack of a barnswallow’s quick and accurate,
almost-to-falling glide is not, as I had thought,
inborn intelligence (a sort of ether that fills
a barnswallow’s hollow bones).
 
Simplicity is the achievement.
Consider the elegant parent swallows that skim out low
across the lake—the mist rising, the reeds jutting,
their glassy mirror image—in effortless,
unerring flight. They are willing to ride the air,
but like their young, when they were young,
they must have flapped, toiled, flustered,
have failed, too. Every muscle resisting the pull
of what pulled them. How did they learn
that graceful giving-in, that belief in invisible air?
It must have been exigency—fatigue,
gravity, hunger, sheer desperate hunger.

 
 

 
 
 

 

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