These Fugitive Wings
by Dagne Forrest
Once, twin shadows streaking
down the side of a gray office
block seemed visual poetry,
somehow meant only for me.
But I never really understood
the birds or their special power,
never really saw them except
as an abstraction or echo.
When the children were young
I was aware of only the barest
hint of movement out of
the corner of a distracted eye.
As I walked to the schoolyard
on breezy days, I was certain the
shade that fluttered by me
was from the string of poplars.
It wasn't until we left the city
that I really saw the birds. Rushing
overhead at dusk in tight formation
or spiralling slowly above the fields,
effortless and starkly singular.
Nothing on the ground moved
with such perfect geometry or
seemed so unsullied by humans.
The winter you were housebound
I saw them, flying taut elliptical
orbits as if shoring up our world
with long invisible ribbons.
Just today I spied a pair barrelling
earthward outside the window.
How do they not embed themselves
in the ground, ancient sinewy darts?
If I close my eyes, their shadow
is always there, an afterimage
bleeding through from the distant
past, woven through the present:
harbingers of a future without us.
* * * * *
"These Fugitive Wings" was first published by Fenland Poetry Review (Issue Four, Spring 2021)
Dagne Forrest's poetry has appeared in journals in Canada, the US, Australia, and the UK. In 2021 she was one of 15 poets featured in The League of Canadian Poets’ annual Poem in Your Pocket campaign, had a poem shortlisted for the UK's Bridport Prize, and won first prize in the Hammond House Publishing International Literary Prize (Poetry). Her creative nonfiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Lake Effect, Paper Dragon, and Sky Island Journal. Dagne is an editor with Painted Bride Quarterly, as well a part of its Slush Pile podcast team. Learn more at dagneforrest.com.
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