The Feather ~ A Study in Contrasts

Feather, A Study in Contrasts © Joseph A. Hesch 2016

Feather II, A Study in Contrasts
© Joseph A. Hesch  2016

The blacktop was running a fever I
felt through my shoes, infected by
tossed cigarette butts, wads of gum
and mouthfuls of disrespect hawked
into its face. I feel your pain,
I thought, adding my hundred-eighty pounds
of self-effacing injury to those insults.
It was then I spotted a feather of gray
and white left by another head-in-the-clouds
drifter in these hinterland parking lots.
Once it soared to dreamy heights over
ocean waters, the agent of ascension for
some living cross silhouetted against the sky.
Now it lies in this parking lot, lost to
the heavens, ground-bound in its new
home with castoffs and garbage bins,
flitting among SUVs and shopping carts.

Yet still it held a dignity, an inherent
natural symmetry, a razor-sharp edge,
yet with a gossamer touch mitigating
the unyielding black to its back and
gracing with a soft balance its undeserving
surrounding bleakness. I bent to touch
this ethereal gift and its caress cured me
of my fever, the one acquired from my
low flights through this world’s
crassness and decay. Now it’s my source
of soaring visions, a quill expressing
the ink from my pen and my soul.

A rather longish poem (for me), based upon the photograph by this writer, offered as a prompt by my friend Sharyl Fuller and her weekly Writing Outside the Lines Challenge. It’s true. I did find this feather on the ground as I exited the SUV at a Home Depot this weekend. It inspired me then, so I took three photos of it and posted them online. Inspired “Annie,” too. Next, a redrafting of an old story of mine for a prose piece inspired by a feather like this.

5 thoughts on “The Feather ~ A Study in Contrasts

  1. Beautifully written, Joe. There was a dark time in my life where every time I went outside I found a feather waiting for me, usually within a few metres of whichever doorway I happened to cross.

    Your story reminded me of another event, however, that delighted both Marcia and me. We were in Kelowna, in BC’s Okanagan Valley, and it was a hot summer afternoon: 37+ deg C (100+ deg F) kind of hot. We were walking down Hwy 97 through the middle of town when a folded piece of brown paper blew past us across the road, soaring up and over a passing transport truck at the last moment. It was as if an air pocket had been created by the fold.

    Once it reached the other side it hit the heat coming off the black asphalt of a huge parking lot, and it started climbing. We stood there watching it for almost ten minutes as it just kept gaining altitude. When it reached the level of the gulls soaring overhead a few circled over to check it out but it didn’t have time to dally. It just kept rising until it finally vanished from our sight. Only then did we continue on.

    The paper was about the right size and colour for the Coffee News paper, so we wrote the editor of the local edition to let him know what we saw…his response was that the founder of the original Coffee News had passed away a few days before. Maybe it was her soul joyfully taking flight.


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