Ghazal on Falling and Flight
Balled fists shoved in pockets, his shuffling feet choose flight.
Stretching his stride against concrete, shadows extend, choose flight.
When did we become so earthbound, so moored in place?
We awake from our dreams, slow and stuck. How did we lose flight?
This time of year, we are showered in gold and red
as brittle leaves break free from branches, drift loose and choose flight.
This morning, I watch the crows, those bundles of blue
black feathers. As they balance on bare trees, do they choose flight
In our calculated flight paths, we traverse air,
treat thousands of miles like mere steps. Flying, we abuse flight.
Look at how we shelter our children: buckle
them in car seats, cage them in cribs. See how they strain, bruise flight.
A few weeks ago, still in summer, I watched
pigeons swoop low over a garden. Their wings’ beat: use flight.
We both take our turns. We inch towards freedom then
turn back, to meet safety. Our compromises ask: Whose flight?
Woman, you are running out of time. You have filled
all of your wasted days and weeks. When will you jump and choose flight?
I don’t really write ghazals annually. I would say that I write them rarely. I really enjoy the form, because it is a challenge. Beyond the obvious difficulty of creating good rhymes and repeating refrains creatively, it’s very difficult for me to write a poem that doesn’t follow a single subject. Since this is so hard, I only work on ghazals when I really feel like it.
I felt like it today. I decided on a ghazal to complement my second Street Photography Now Project photo, which I actually uploaded to the Flickr group on time.
The prompt for the week was the following quote: ”Turn your attention to the four-legged population” – Ying Tang. For many days, I carried my camera everywhere, trying to find a dog, cat, or perhaps even a squirrel to photograph. I learned in these few days that no one seems to own dogs in my neighborhood and squirrels are very jumpy creatures. As I was watching for four-legged animals, I noticed that at a certain time of day, people were casting shadow legs when they walked. So, instead of hunting real four-legged animals, I started hunting people’s feet. It’s much easier. Also, as someone pointed out to me on Flickr, the guy’s shoes has a puma on them, which is definitely four-legged.
I don’t really know why I chose a ghazal for this picture, other than it just felt right. (Maybe I was subliminally inspired to write one, since I recently bought a book of ghazals by John Hayes on Lulu.) I do know that I chose the refrain based on the fact that the shoe in the picture is extended upward, as if it’s about to lift off the ground. That little lift led me to flight, and to this poem.