One White Feather
The feather falls and drifts to the grass.
You look up and there is nothing,
as if the seagull that once carried it has disappeared.
Just over the ridge of black rocks, the sea sings,
a melody of storms just past, raucous waves
collapsing to the shore in a riot of spray and sound.
Rocks litter the shore.
You look down and wonder at the shedding of the single feather.
Did the white gull feel it pull loose and drift?
Does he feel the loss. Does he notice
One less feather as he leaps to the sky,
one less feather as the January wind cuts cold
against his body in winter. Probably not.
Perhaps I am the only one who felt each part of me
torn away by storms and wear and lovers with knives.
Perhaps I am the only one who mournes.
Or at least, once mourned.
The ocean has taught me well.
That nothing is lost. That wear and tear exposes
new layers and leaves room for growth where perhaps
there once was no room. That loss,
even a feather weight’s loss, lightens you
for flight both higher and farther than you ever imagined.
About this poem
The picture was taken this past weekend near Rye, NH. It was one of those pictures that my kids, had they seen me take it, would have said: “There’s a poem in that one, right Dad?”
Right. Even if I did not know what the poem was at the time.