Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "The Air That Birds Don't See"

This poem was inspired and sponsored by the_vulture and is a highly allegorical exploration of sexual privilege and asexuality.  The title touches on a literary motif of that which is unseen yet ubiquitous; its antecedents include the saying "the water that fish don't see" and the famous genderfic "The Women Men Don't See."  Another historic reference is the image of birds in flight as something that must be envied, as if the desire for flight were necessary and inevitable, and flight itself inherently good.  But not everyone sees the world the same way...

The Air That Birds Don't See


They fly,
effortless as clouds,
and never look down.

They do not notice
those who walk below
on solid ground.

Earthbound, we look up,
and see the wind's path
written in the shape of their wings.

They,
who live in air,
see nothing of it.

Every touch is theirs by birth,
every caress of breeze over feather,
every nuance of lift and thrust.

Earthbound, we stand back
and watch them glide, our lives
defined by gravity and drag.

It is not our nature
that makes us less than free,
but the manner of their flight.

For us the forest trails,
so infinite and compelling,
would be paradise if not for the air.

Some days it seems as if all the words
are for nests and eggs and the songs of love,
leaving nothing for us to speak, to breathe.

They soar above us, looping the sky
with their courtship, and never
take note of our own.

Their privileges
are invisible torrents
as steady as trade winds.

Sometimes they sit on high perches
and cry for us to follow, not realizing
that we neither have nor want such wings.

They will never know the joys of caving
or rock climbing or digging in the soft earth.
They are birds.  How could they understand?

Let them gather grass for their nests
and ribbon the sky with their adulation.
The wind was made for their wings.

Let us have the beckoning trails
and the slow swing of friendly feet.
The stones were made for our skin.

We only ask for the freedom
to move through the world
in our ways, not theirs.

We only ask them to leave us in peace,
not bind us in ropes of wind and words,
lest we smother in the air that birds don't see.

Tags: activism, cyberfunded creativity, fishbowl, gender studies, poem, poetry, reading, writing
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