What’s Stopping You (the Song of a Swallow Trapped in a Room)
What’s stopping me? I feel it
but I cannot see it: rigid, cool,
my own element made compact,
this smooth hard nothingness
defines a sudden, sullen prison.
I press my beating heart to it
from chestnut-red throat to
forked-streamer indigo tail;
I double-delta this clear cage
with my pleading wing span.
Passive, beaten panic holds me.
Now my mite-honed eye
locks on to vast new terror:
one of the clumsy ground-giants
has seen me, is edging ever closer,
its huge hands raised to its face.
It tells me how ravishing are
the glinty steely blues of me.
A caution in its hushed tones
gives me a fleeting pulse of
something beyond my reason:
it fears me in this cooped space.
Still I will my every atom
to filter through this clotted air,
this sheet of curdled sky.
drenched in the freshness, the joy
of where I have my airborne being.
What was stopping me swings out Deliberate, slow, without grace,
its hands fumble above me,
I hear a sound: tightness unclasped,
and in that moment I am flooded,
till it no longer matters: I fly,
exultant, superb, infinite acrobat
of free-flow invisible currents.
Now I can trust myself again.