Collecting Moments

This afternoon Nick Bilton posted a lovely piece on collecting air in his various travels. Alex Howard followed that with a piece on collecting stories. Both of which made me think about the way that many of my poems attempt to collect moments. These snapshots are mostly short poems capturing moments in time, in which I try to evoke the wholeness of a moment. 

I mostly write these for myself, and don’t often share them, but here are two.

Unwelcome Aviary - Aug. 24, 2005

We try to sleep on the concourse, between places, but awake to birdsong. The airport is full of sparrows, pecking the trodden carpet, getting under foot. They glide from the steel girders, in pendulum arcs, riding the downdraft of air conditioning. They are inappropriate flying things reminding us of our tenuous flights ahead.  

The hulking crafts that line this glass walkway seem to stare in at the birds, learning some necessary lesson, some last vital technique in the flutter and burst of wings and beaks. 

The birds inside carve this carefully constructed world - all plastic, and steel, and glass - into something less permanent. People duck and look worriedly, following the birds’ flight path through the delicate air. Days later, back on the ground in some other place, they will dream of flight and their hearts will beat like bird wings.

Catherine  - May 23, 1997

The roof of the old barn sags like your back in May after one thousand winters weathered,
and it creaks in the wind, telling stories in the language of wood.

Its heavy beams moan in fear of another storm
and remind me of the strength you once held.
Thinking back as far as your roots, and remembering the tree.

Your tired face is lined with time, like the beaten planks of that aching barn,
paint chipping away to reveal a history of hope and sweat cast on those walls.