The Māori saw salty tears rolling
Down the beak of the Wandering Albatross,
Tears of longing for its ocean home.
The Māori saw the beauty of its feathers, white as spray,
Strong as the current, gentle as foam
And made them a symbol of peace.
The Maori saw the power of its long, tapering wings,
Perfect for graceful gliding and turning in slow motion,
Mastering wind shear and riding storms,
Unconcerned by the raging of the sea.
The Maori decorated war canoes with albatross pinions
To endow them with the bird’s dominion of the ocean.
From the wing bones, they made flutes that sang with spirits’ breath
And chisels to tattoo their skin
With the magic of albatross and wind.
© Kim M. Russell, 2016
Image found on www.wanderingalbatross.org
Victoria is our host this Tuesday and she has asked us to look at feathers, perhaps writing of a bird, whether humble or glorious in its array, or maybe zeroing in on an individual feather in its detail, writing along the line of imagist poets. Can we hear feathers? Smell, taste or touch them? What do they mean in certain cultural or religious traditions such as those of Native Americans?
Victoria also gave us a poem by Emily Dickinson to rev up our imagination:
Hope is the Thing with Feathers – (314)
BY EMILY DICKINSON
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.