I was very young when I first imagined I could fly
Just 4 or 5 I think, and very confused
About those grown-up boundaries dividing
Dreams and fantasy from cold reality.
By day I’d lie in grassy fields and watch a fearless
Blue Jay harass a stalking cat, then safely leap aloft
And flap his wings in disgust.
By night, I dreamed of leaping off a tall building,
Flapping my arms so fast and furious that I would
Slowly rise and fly beside a flock of honking geese
Making their way to some far away wonderland called Canada.
I loved the raucous calls of black-faced Laughing Gulls
Darting and wheeling above the Galveston ferry, intercepting
Bread crumbs in mid-air. I longed to fly with them,
And was always convinced I could have had not my mother’s voice
Held me tethered here below.
For many of my adult years, I was that grown-up voice, splashing
The cold water of reality on any dreams and fantasies that dared
To breach grown-up defenses.
But finally, in old age, I am a child again, free to dream,
Free to fly any way I can.
When I stand on a mountainside in Ecuador at 13000 feet, breathing
Cold, thin air as Sword-billed hummingbirds and Booted Racket-tails
Vibrate the mist around me —
When I tiptoe through a swamp in Florida to watch a Great Blue Heron
In breeding plumage fishing to feed his mate —
When I sit in a blind in North Carolina in November,
Chilled in the frosty 26 degree morning air, and find myself thrilled
At the antics of Eastern Bluebirds, Red-bellied Woodpeckers
And Carolina Wrens cavorting on pumpkins and competing for grub worms
Against a backdrop of yellow gold and rusty red leaves —
Then I understand that I can fly, that the birds and butterflies and landscapes
I pursue have taught me how to live my dreams, lifting my spirit higher
Than my highest flight when I was only five.
(Poem by Janice Braud)