In the beginning, black. It's the old story—ink.
And then there was a growing out of it,
rip and bloom and a bird unwrapping her wings
one from another. There was a world to grow into.
In the beginning came animals not two-by-two,
but one. Discreet. From the one
came caring and anger and water and soil.
From the one came another.
Here he is, a black bear with wings to cover
the sun or the moon or the bed where you sleep.
When we were very small, we bounded
toward any sound that sounded.
Now we know:
quick atop the vole frantic in the sod root
away away the rattlesnake shake
avoid the tar-smell of the big road
follow Mama on the hunt until she sends
us out, out to wings to circle on
slow and low toward Oolie just landed in the big field.
The other thing we have to know
is how to find each other.
The flying is best at night. The stars
or the absence of stars. The woolen blanket of August heat
or the sheet of sheer February freeze in my lungs.
I say night. But then I think of dawn, the red swell the earth
kicks up on the horizon. I think of early afternoon,
when I can swallow ten thousand gall gnats at a pass.
Early evening, when the chimney swifts column through the mist
settling over Liveszy Lake, rising over the land then falling,
arrowed ground-ward again. There is flight at noon, blinded,
flight just before noon, glazed. It is all my luck to be above it all.
I believe in your power, too, you little ones.
I believe in your hearts, the stretch of your hearts
out toward me, but I do not know how to reach in return
without slicing you bone deep. I do not know how
the two of us can ever meet without breaking.
Abby Chew earned an MFA at the Iowa Writers' Workshop and a BA at DePauw University. For many years she was a goatherd and Humanities teacher at a small Quaker school in southeastern Ohio. Then she drove across the country in a red truck with a white dog to California, where she now teaches at Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences.