“Flight” by Paul Hostovsky

clouds during sunset

Have you noticed
that birds on the ground usually walk or hop
instead of fly?
But they will fly if you get inside their
flight initiation path,
which is just a fancy way of saying
too close for comfort.
Humans like to say things in fancy ways
that can usually be said simpler.
This is used to distance other humans.
Birds, like humans, will keep a certain distance
between one another.
If you look at birds on a wire,
if you look at humans hanging out together,
the ones with smaller spaces between them
are usually mates or offspring or really good buds.
Birds would rather walk or hop than fly because
flight takes way more energy–
you wouldn’t do it if you didn’t have to.
But you’ll do it to escape predators,
and also when life over there is a better option
than life over here. This is called migration.
Humans would rather fly than walk, but mostly
they walk. Sometimes they walk very long distances
and when they finally arrive they are told to turn back.
The humans are told to turn back.
As if there weren’t enough nesting materials to go around.
Humans have learned a lot from birds,
but we still don’t fathom–(fathom from the Old English:
to measure with a distance of outstretched arms,
to encircle with the arms, to embrace)–
we still don’t fathom flight.

Paul Hostovsky (he/him/his) makes his living in Boston as a sign language interpreter. His latest book of poems is Mostly (FutureCycle Press,2021). His poems have won a Pushcart Prize, two Best of the Net Awards, and have been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and The Writer’s Almanac. Find more on his website, paulhostovsky.com

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