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April 1, 2012 vol 8 no 1

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Claire Everett

Tuning Out

in a lifetime
four round-trips to the moon . . .
ah, these wings!

Brushstrokes. These breaths of blue. Everywhere, the faint crackle of insects and dawn to dusk the sound of swifts screaming and chittering as they tune in to summer. Mating, even sleeping on the wing; only stopping to rear young. Life in the fast lane. What need is there to pause, with a maw full of flies and a raindrop here and there to quench your thirst? Called 'footless' by the Romans, a grounded swift is a pitiful sight.

cut the engine
over enemy lines
and drift back down

World War I. A French airman thinks his eyes are deceiving him. At 10,000 feet, he sails through a colony of dozing swifts. What it is to ascend through twilight and glide through a gnat's eye of slumber, to find yourself, moments later, miles from where your dreams began.

finding stillness
in a mind that's never still . . .
swift on the wing