Why We Want to Fly and Swim, by Maren Mitchell

Maren Mitchell
WHY WE WANT TO FLY AND SWIM

Because we can’t.
Because we could
before we shed feathers, sprouted thumbs,
unfolded into walking plants, tethered to earth,
reaching for dominion.
We remember with
cartwheels
flying dreams
spaceships
diving
submarines.
We feel the itch tease below each shoulder blade.
Majestic wings almost unfurl.
We remember leaps of faith into the blue canopy,
lords upheld from beak to breast to tail,
coasting from warmth to warmth,
leaving solid below.
Lonely legs long to be one, sculpted for speed.
We ache for the ultimate caress of liquid surround,
fractured light playing around and past us,
navigating by currents, season to season,
our bodies all grace,
circumnavigating time.

Author’s Comment: Last year I had several “what if” subjects on my subjects-to-write-poems-about list. Since our species is notorious for wanting to do what it can’t do, I speculated about why, in the case of flying and swimming (underwater), drawing on the premise that we evolved from creatures that did and do fly and swim.

Bio: Maren O. Mitchell’s poems have appeared in the Red Clay Reader, “The Arts Journal,” “Appalachian Journal,” “The Journal of Kentucky Studies,” “Echoes Across the Blue Ridge, an anthology, “Southern Humanities Review,” and Nurturing Paws, an anthology. Poems are forthcoming in “Pirene’s Fountain,” http://www.pirenesfountain.com, Japan Anthology, and “The Classical Outlook.” She lives in northeastern Georgia with her husband and two cats.

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13 thoughts on “Why We Want to Fly and Swim, by Maren Mitchell

  1. Maren, such good poems. And thank you for remembering Arts Journal. So many moons and moonlets ago. I lost your mailing address and owe you a hard copy letter. Send me post haste! And I’ll write you real.

  2. Ruth, thanks, and great to hear from you! Can never forget “The Arts Journal.” You are an editor to be remembered. Will send address.

    • “Circumnavigating time” is a keeper!

      And why do we want to do so much beyond “our element” …? (we want to make poetry: because quotidian conversation is not enough, and the bards primeval still chant in our collective pulse)

      • Ultimate thanks, Tyler! Had a blast with iambic pentameter. Will send. How is the beat toward the U. of London?

  3. Flying dreams are the absolute best. Oh, how I wish I could fly like that! I know I was a dolphin in another life time. LOL Thanks for expressing a beloved topic, Maren.

    • Many thanks, Mylula. It was a terrific course – to try to do what I did not know. Although the free verse poem was written way before the course.

  4. The last five lines have a special beauty and I like the universal linkings of all creatures to mankind.
    Shadow memories to explain why we want to fly and swim is a unique idea. Maren’s intelligent writing is a delight.

  5. Loved this playful, thoughtful poem. I read aloud several times, never quite deciding on a favorite bit. Thank you for a fabulous read!

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