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Poem: "Cardinal Feathers" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "Cardinal Feathers"

This poem was written outside the fishbowl sessions.  It has been sponsored by Shirley Barrette.  For this poem, I researched northern cardinal birds and Catholic cardinal clergy.  This poem belongs to the series Fledgling Grace, which you can explore further via the Serial Poetry page.

Cardinal Feathers

The first common factor
identified after the Fledging
was that of ethnic heritage:
people with the same ancestors
in a tribe or clan or other family group
tended to bear the same kind of wings,
usually from a species of bird
native to their ancestral homeland.

When the cardinal wings began to appear,
everyone thought it was the same thing,
but they soon realized that
these people were not all related.

They were scattered widely
across the continents,
most of them in America or Europe,
a few elsewhere.

The earliest ones were Catholic cardinals,
who proclaimed it a sign from God --
which made everyone laugh a little wildly,
because what else could it be
with people all over the world
suddenly sprouting wings and tails?

The cardinals just fluffed their new scarlet feathers
and continued to sing the praises of God,
and their congregations continued to listen.

Not many of the Catholic cardinals fledged
with the red wings of cardinal birds.
Most of them fledged as doves or sparrows,
or the various birds of their heritage.

Some clergymen of lower rank
opened wings as red as the holy robes.
These were noted by their superiors
and quietly considered for promotion.

There were nuns, too,
who showed the softer reddish-brown
of the female cardinals.
That was unexpected,
but perhaps they were especially holy.

The College of Cardinals,
not wanting to argue with God's will,
admitted that perhaps it was time
to consider allowing women into the priesthood
at the same ranking as the men.
God knew, they needed the extra hands
with more people pouring into the churches every day.

Out in the congregations,
there were a few, a very few,
members who showed up with wet red wings
wondering what it meant and
why on God's green Earth they had been chosen.
Not even the College of Cardinals could answer that,
and God remained as frustratingly silent on that topic
as on every other question about the Fledging.

More surprising was the discovery
of some cardinal-winged people
who did not even belong  to the Church.
They were all good people, honorable people,
who loved and were loved by their neighbors;
but they did not feel compelled to sit on a pew
and dwell on it every Sunday morning.

That was disconcerting, to say the least.
The Church discreetly revived the rank of lay cardinal
to apply to everyone with cardinal wings.
They felt certain that God's plan
would all be revealed eventually.

Meanwhile the red-winged cardinals,
high ranked and low, male and female,
inside and outside the Catholic Church,
went on loving their neighbors
and tending the poor

and trusting that God's plan would work just fine
whether anyone else knew what it was or not.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Current Mood: busy busy

4 comments or Leave a comment
From: technoshaman Date: November 24th, 2012 02:32 am (UTC) (Link)
More often that not, "why" is beyond our ken... and sometimes even the Universe itself doesn't know why.

I'm ok with that. Especially if the "what" brings smiles. As this did.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 24th, 2012 03:18 am (UTC) (Link)


>> More often that not, "why" is beyond our ken... and sometimes even the Universe itself doesn't know why. <<

A key feature in this series is that God seems to be showing, not telling. There might be actual answers or messages eventually, but I wouldn't expect much in the way of verbal guidance. Most of it just comes down to people trying to figure things out from observing the action as it unfolds, or following what grace they can find.

>> I'm ok with that. Especially if the "what" brings smiles. As this did. <<


It is kind of a fun contrast to some other series where deities are present and vocal, or distant but still doing their best to communicate. This God is present but not vocal. Mysterious.
cadenzamuse From: cadenzamuse Date: December 5th, 2012 02:38 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm not really sure why this one gave me goosebumps, but I thought you might like to know that it did.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 5th, 2012 03:10 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

Yes, that kind of feedback is always useful.

Something about this series seems prone to insights that are difficult to unpack and articulate in words made of language. I've gotten repeated variations on "why/don't know why" comments.
4 comments or Leave a comment