Since the linkback perk seems to be missing in action, I'll post it myself. Comment here with your links to the December 2012 Poetry Fishbowl to reveal verses, one per service where you link. "Secondary Feathers" is now complete. Linkers include: janetmiles, catsittingstill, zianuray, cadenzamuse, siliconshaman, thesilentpoet
The Fledging rolled through the population
in slow waves, bringing wings here and there,
at first only a few, then more and more.
It touched people of every religion, every race,
for all cultures had some awareness of Divinity,
however different their beliefs and practices --
yet it did not touch every individual.
Almost, but not quite.
At first it flowed around the agnostics and atheists,
those who had found no compelling evidence
for believing in God, or who refuted it.
Now they watched their neighbors sprout wings,
and some decided that yes, all right,
that was rather convincing.
Only then did they begin to grow wings of their own,
secondary feathers after the primaries of the faithful.
Some of the remaining unbelievers fled
into the mountains and deserts and other wilderness
to escape what they saw as a plague --
although, so far, no one who was
utterly insistent about the absence of God
had sprouted wings.
"It's foolish, really," said a former atheist
by the name of Thomas. "They have nothing to fear."
"Of course you would say that now,"
said the reporter who interviewed him.
Thomas just shrugged and said,
"As long as they don't believe,
nothing will happen to them,
just as nothing happened to me."
"How can you know that?"
the reporter asked.
"Did God speak to you?"
"No," said Thomas, "but I figured it out.
All these people around me fledging,
some of them with wings that mean things --
that's not a plague, nor something humans could do.
God is the simplest explanation."
"That doesn't mean the atheists are safe,"
the reporter pointed out,
"just that you changed your mind."
"I like to use logic," Thomas said.
"Given the evidence, logic pointed to a real God,
an active God -- who could plant wings on everyone
yet chose not to do so. I thought, well,
not only is God surprisingly real
but also considerate.
Someone I might like. And then ..."
"Yes?" the reporter prompted.
"And then this happened,"
Thomas said, opening his sparrow wings.
The secondary feathers on both sides
were not gray or brown, nor plain white,
but a pure iridescent pearl.
"God didn't mind me using my brain,
didn't mind waiting while I weighed the data,"
Thomas went on. "Once I decided,
there was this ... nudge, like a gust of wind,
and suddenly I had wings."
"So you think that active disbelief
can protect against the Fledging?"
the reporter asked.
"I think it's something that God respects,"
Thomas said. "Apparently free will is real too."
He flipped his wings neatly into place
and the nacreous secondaries disappeared
under coverts of brown and gray
but however hidden, they were still there.