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The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "The Poi Bird"

This poem was written outside the fishbowl sessions.  It was inspired by a comment that rhodielady_47 left under my poem "The Wingdresser's Kitchen."  It has been sponsored by Shirley Barrette.  Visit the Serial Poetry page to find more poems in the Fledgling Grace series.

Browse the birds: 'i'iwi  bird, blue bird-of-paradise, dove, indigo macawJardine's parrotonagadori, peacock, and red-winged blackbird.  You can also read about the Hawai'ian phrase "poi dog," the Yazidi and their peacock angel.

The Poi Bird

For a while it seemed that the Fledging
gave each person the wings and tail
of a single bird, most often based
on their ancestry, but more occasionally
based on religion or other subtle factors.

Then came word of a young man
who lived in Hawai'i and was
what the locals called a "poi dog" --
someone of mixed heritage with
ancestors from at least four different sources.

He had white dove wings from England,
with green Jardine's parrot secondaries from Africa on the left
capped in the scarlet coverts of a 'i'iwi  from Hawai'i,
and indigo macaw primaries from Brazil on the right
capped like a red-winged blackbird from America.

He had the long, curling tail feathers
of a black-breasted golden onagadori  from Japan,
bracketed by the twin plumes
of a blue bird-of-paradise from New Guinea,
and in the center a few peacock eyes from Iraq.

No one knew why this had happened,
so they speculated --
perhaps it required an equal mix,
perhaps there was some minimum threshold
of contributing ancestors.

The young man flared his flamboyant wings,
their colors as jumbled as Joseph's coat,
and offered his own opinion:
"I've always been proud of being a poi dog.
Maybe that's what it takes."

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3 comments or Leave a comment
(Deleted comment)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 25th, 2012 02:41 am (UTC) (Link)


>> Heh, I'd probably come out similarly. I've ancestry from most of northern and western Europe. <<

That's possible.

>> The German is more prevalent than any other, tho, so maybe that would come to the top. <<

Maybe eagle wings as the base, then, rather than the dove wings that the poi bird had as a base? I suspect that for the rare mixed wings, the largest portion or strongest affinity would determine the base to which excerpts of other wings get added.

>> On yet another hand, I've had people tell me I have a Nordic Soul, so maybe it would just be the wings of the Glaucus Gull. <<

The Vikings sowed their wild oats far enough for that to be possible, too. Actually jumping outside one's genetic background to pick up someone else's heritage wings seems to be very rare: the only one identified for certain is the Japanese girl with kookaburra wings in "Like a Cocky on a Biscuit Tin." It's probably happened more than once, but not a lot more.

It's fun to imagine how different people's wings might manifest. I've gotten a lot of poems out of such speculation!
(Deleted comment)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 25th, 2012 03:19 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

>> I do actually have some Norwegian and Swedish heritage way back in there along with the German, Scottish, English, Irish, Belgian, Flemish, and French, so the gullwings wouldn't actually be outside my genetic background, just a "lesser" element coming out over a more prevalent one. <<

That is such an awesome collection of ancestors! In this setting, any trace can be enough to bequeath wings. Sometimes it seems based on a person's affinity for a given culture or tradition. Other times it's a sharp reminder, for people who are trying to deny it.

>> It's all just fun and games until we actually start fledging, tho ;) <<

The wings of spirit are how we move when we are not embodied -- all the flavors of love, attraction, affinity. The connections are what allow people to move through the space of the other realm, as wings through air. What we pay attention to becomes more powerful. So if people are thinking of wings and connection and spirit, it's a way of strengthening something which is true ... just not physically manifest in this life.

You never know what will suddenly turn out to be useful.
(Deleted comment)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 27th, 2012 05:14 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

>>Thank you! I've actually managed to visit about half of those countries, and really felt like there was some kind of connection there, particularly in Germany and Scotland.<<

That's nice to know.

>>Also, I've been greatly enjoying this series, but as you said when you started posting them, they're pretty heavy, and often after I've finished one, I just don't have the spoons to respond.<<

It's okay. You can always come back later if you think of something you really want to share. Some poems require more processing time.

>> But I want you to know that I have been reading and...well, "enjoying" isn't the right word for all of them, but it is for most, and "appreciating" works for the rest. <<

Thank you! Yes, I often use "appreciating" for works that are bittersharp in tone but well made.
3 comments or Leave a comment