What Bird Am I?
(for Brian Alleyne)

by Ralph Dumain

It seems all my fellow birds cluttering up the air
forgot where they set out from, couldn't remember
what species they belonged to, or remembered
too well, having travelled so far yet feeling
too lost to admit having left it all behind.

It seems some pretended that they knew how each
alteration of each one's flight path proceeded
logically, while others pretended the sole spot
they now occupied under the burning sun was timeless,
a universe unto itself. I fluttered nervously.

It seems some were erudite, some naive, some led,
some followed, some flew in formation, some sought
companionship with the wind alone, some were content
to fly, others were furious to solve the puzzle
of how they could fly, some remembered hatching.

It seems some watched only the sun and stars, others
watched only one another, some kept their eyes glued
to land or to water below. I watched in amazement
and almost collided with a mountain. I could see
so much. Sometimes my wingspan blocked my vision.

It seems some needed to measure their flight mathematically,
others just felt it in their bird-muscles, some had to sing
about it. When I chose to express it, I was weary
and stuttering. Unsure of everyone's destination, I blurted:
will you land where you belong or where you are exhausted?

Written 28 January 1995, 1:15-1:45 am, 3:30-3:40 am
©1995, 2000 Ralph Dumain

Sound file: R. Dumain reading poem, excerpt from interview with Jim Pray, Buffalo, NY, 4 June 2006

Sound file: Ralph Dumain interviewed by Jim Pray, Buffalo, NY, 4 June 2006
(offsite, complete interview)

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Uploaded 18 August 2000
Sound file added 10 June 2006

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