Thursday, June 16, 2011

What it is to fly


Once, I flew freely in the far heavens
A bird, a soul
With incandescent feathers
And deep crimson eyes
So clear you could almost peer
Straight through to the other side.

But then
I thirsted.
I hungered, and
I desired.

And the world below, with its red earth,
Its blue water, its green luxury
Well, it tempted me.

And I,
Mistakenly believing it would satiate my desire,
Folded my delicate wings
And descended from my heavenly home
To the world underneath the sky.

And once I had landed,
and drank, and feasted, and lazed about
until I was full and heavy and lethargic
I began to miss the high heavens,
The sun shining on my bright feathers, warming my flight.

And so I sought to return—a return to paradise.

And yet, I was impeded
I was held back
Caged, trapped
My delicate wings, covered in sins and transgressions,
Powerless to attain greater heights.

And so here I must reside.
In the murky waters
Unable to soar in true paradise.

And now I do wonder,
Was it ever worth it,
All these empty delights?

I fear that soon I will forget—
That soon I will forget the realm on high.
That what once was clear will become clouded
That I will lose the crimson in my eye.

And so I weep.
I weep for myself,
As I weep for others—
As I weep for all who never knew,
What it is to fly.


This poem about detachment and the afterlife is based on a selection from the Baha'i writings:

Ye are even as the bird which soareth, with the full force of its mighty wings and with complete and joyous confidence, through the immensity of the heavens, until, impelled to satisfy its hunger, it turneth longingly to the water and clay of the earth below it, and, having been entrapped in the mesh of its desire, findeth itself impotent to resume its flight to the realms whence it came. Powerless to shake off the burden weighing on its sullied wings, that bird, hitherto an inmate of the heavens, is now forced to seek a dwelling-place upon the dust. Wherefore, O My servants, defile not your wings with the clay of waywardness and vain desires, and suffer them not to be stained with the dust of envy and hate, that ye may not be hindered from soaring in the heavens of My divine knowledge.

-Baha'u'llah