In feathers the color of dusk, a swallow,
up under the shadowy eaves of the barn,
weaves now, with skillful beak and chitter,
one bright white feather into her nest
to guide her flight home in the darkness.
It has taken a hundred thousand years
for a bird to learn this one trick with a feather,
a simple thing. And the world is alive
with such innocent progress. But to what
safe place shall any of us return
in the last smoky nightfall,
when we in our madness have put the torch
to the hope in every nest and feather?
from One World At a Time
We’re home now. All of us are home. We don’t need the white feather because we know exactly where we are.
But when we no longer have to be home, not in this way, not quite so much, what will we remember?
What will normal induce us to forget?
What white feathers must we memorize now, before time and distance do their merciless work?
What simple truths must we never allow to fall away, the loss of which will put us back to sleep?
What will “home” mean when, once again, we have to find our way back?