Sometimes I wander on the wooded path behind my house when I’m struggling with a writing project, or with anything else. A walk under a shady canopy can take me into another land, especially when I’m the only human on the trail.
Earlier this afternoon I walked down the path alone. Squirrels darted across branches, hurling themselves from pine to oak. I heard what I imagined were deer stamping behind the thick privet; a small herd has taken up residence in this dedicated green space. I gazed into the underbrush, then turned my eyes to the path in front of me, where I noticed a small feather on the ground. I picked it up.
The feather was dun gray tinged with brown—probably not very interesting, the bird from which it came. I slid my fingers down the feather’s length to the tip, then touched the pointed end to a fingertip, feeling its sharpness. As I brought it closer to my eyes to inspect the hollow shaft, an image of an old-fashioned quill pen flicked through my mind. How must it have felt to write that way, with words flowing through a feather that had once held a swan aloft?
Of course, such pens were much larger and more attractive than the feather in my hand. I let it go and watched it float in a spiral toward the ground.
As I walked on, I saw another feather of the same kind, then another. What had happened here? Bird attacking bird? A cat? Violence—or molting? A bicyclist whizzed by as I gathered the feathers, thirteen in all, into a makeshift bouquet. I scanned the ground and underbrush for other signs of what had happened, but I couldn’t discern the meaning of this story.
I wondered: How many stories do I overlook in a typical day? I’d almost walked right past this one. And of those I notice, how many resist interpretation, resting instead in mystery?
I retraced my steps, walking slowly toward my house. In my right hand, I could feel the feathers drag the air, their unexpected weight tugging at my imagination.
6 Replies to “The Weight of Feathers”
:-) reminds me a little of the ending of Ali’s poem “Because These Failures Are My Job,” which I love…something about “apology, or thank you…”
Love the weight of the feathers in your hands. So sensitive, you are!
“I’d almost walked right past this one…” But you didn’t ! You saw it and you made sure you took notice. That is what makes you YOU. Beautifully told, Angela.
Thank you, Risa!
its nice to see you growing your blog again… this one is pregnant with the universe, it seems….
Thanks, Jon. You are most kind! xo, A