A poet’s perspective: When a bird takes flight | Weekend Magazine


I lost the reins of a horse

He reared up, sniffling and wild

among silver and fine china.

wind swirling snow across a field.

I listen to the foghorn of the soul

as I cross the riptide

between gratitude and despair.

Touch me – life is lived

in the moments when a bird takes flight.

Marian Willmott is an artist and writer living in Vermont, enjoying the solitude of the mountains and a vibrant artistic community. His work has appeared in Calyx, Salamander, the Denver Quarterly, The Worchester Review, The Louisville Review, Birmingham Arts Journal and The Comstock Review, among other journals and in an anthology, Unbearable Uncertainty. One of his poems was nominated for a Pushcart Prize by the Worchester Review in 2014. Turnings, a book of poetry, was published by Pudding House Publications in December 2007. Still Life, Requiem and an Egg, a book of poetry , was published by Prolific Press in 2018.

Images, unexpected and striking, live in this poem by Marian Wilmott with its lines depicting light and dark, promise and despair, order and chaos. The snow is falling gently as the fires rage. A horse rears among the china and silver servants of the dining room. Images are vivid and dynamic. It is a poem that awakens.

There is something to surprise us – in the poem and in life. And there are a lot of soothing and familiar things. Like the gently falling snow and spiraling patterns that occur everywhere in nature: in wind patterns, in spirals of moving water, in ferns and seashells, and our own fingerprints. These patterns have meaning and order beyond what we see in front of us.

As the poem nears the end, we have the image of someone listening to a foghorn. Not one meant for ships, one meant for the soul. This familiar coastal sound is one we can cling to as the speaker traverses this existential riptide he speaks of. We all have earth currents within us, some calm and navigable. Some less.

We are touched daily by the earth and by the elements that swirl around us. We have his clay within us; we hold his song. So it’s fitting that the poem ends with what sounds like a song and the truest part of the poem. This place of embodied presence that recognizes the truth of things, both bright and dark, but always moves towards joy, possibility, music.

Touch me – life is lived

in the moments when a bird takes flight.

Susan Jefts is an Adirondack and Vermont poet and editor whose poems have appeared in numerous journals, most recently “Quiet Diamonds” by Orchard Street Press and “Poems in the Time of COVID” by Small Pond Press in Brattleboro.

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