Of Birds Having Flown

Note: We’re meandering our way toward the anniversary of a sad milestone that you will not be familiar with and do not know. Years ago, a good friend of mine was dealing with the sudden passing of her brother, and I stumbled my way through the following poem in the tiny hope that my tiny words would somehow, somewhere, help someone, aside from my specific yearning to help my friend find a second of peace.

I have shared and linked to this poem a time or three before, so mea culpa if the echoes are familiar, but as the leaves of the trees at Bonnywood began their first hints of autumn-turning earlier today, my thoughts wandered until they tripped over this reflection of how it feels when you remember when and thought it would always be…


Of Birds Having Flown


Younger then, we were

And the newness, the innocence, still shiny gifts

Sparkling in their wrapping, the folded edges sharp and clean


Each morning was another chance, more promise

With relish, we threw back the blankets

What would make us smile today?


The delicious possibilities, when age is single digits

And a sibling, a compadre, to share it with

Ah, mighty fine, indeed


Today, we will be warriors in the backyard, avenging the misdeeds done our tribe

Tomorrow, we build a fort out of sofa cushions, to protect a pale, lovelorn princess

And the next tomorrow, a spaceship, with tinfoil and cardboard


The tomorrows are plenty when first you walk, first you dream

Your brother at your side as you slay the vengeful dragon

Your sister at your ear, urging you to climb higher in the tree


And we grow with our tomorrows, as we should

New things beckon, other paths open

There are more than just princesses who yearn


Did you see that horse, with the muscles that flow, and the power?

This book I’ve been reading, I cherish it so

The stars, so many stars, where do I begin, how do I begin to understand?


And sometimes, and oftentimes, the paths we shared slowly branch

Options present themselves, small choices that veer slightly, almost imperceptibly

But the beacons we seek do vary, and the songs we hear have different tunes


So the single digits become double, and paths and songs are followed

Sometimes, it’s only a slight change in pitch

Other times, it’s an entirely different symphony


But that’s what makes us human, humane

The beck and call, and how we respond

Each of us hears unique whispers, quiet signals in the night


And because we love, we christen the voyages we do not understand, with our blessing,

With our hope, and we cross our fingers, letting the ship be sailed

For if not for a snowflake that drifted another way, we could be at that same helm


And at some point we watch from afar, still with the hope

As the ones we love plant marigolds in gardens distant and unfamiliar

Personal seeds, watered with uniqueness, distinct thumbs of green, unknown but known


Years, they tick, faster and faster, from eons to seconds

And things are left unsaid, actions not taken, because we don’t fully grasp time

Until the hourglass is abruptly dry, broken


Sudden un-rightness, the theft of a life, the void that follows

And the questions that tumble into our brain

Was I there at the right time? Did I say the right thing? Did they know?


That I loved them.

That I wanted everything for them.

Despite their annoying ability to be cuter than me at critical family gatherings


Of course they knew

Of course they felt your distant hand in the deep of the night

When dreams and life dance, a waltz of what was and could be


After all, you once saved a pale princess, with her tinfoil crown

And she thanked you for being so brave and so strong

Mighty warriors, determined and true


And the years roll back and the now and suddenness melts

And there is only the tree of long ago and ever more, with skinned knees and sap on your fingers

Reaching down to hoist your brother even higher


You part the branches of your castle tower and point

Can you see the horses running? Just over there?

It’s your turn to ride with them, fly with them, feel with them


And off they go, the horses, and the thundering hoofs of distant and near

Over the crest of with me and into the valley of without

Where the sun always shines with rays of answers that we all seek


Save a place for me, intrepid warrior, you who went where I did not,

A seat by that burning campfire, where is and was and what could be touch hands

And the stars remember all of the bits that we’ve misplaced…


Photo graciously provided by the Hopeman Family Archives.

P.S. Some of you who have been with Bonnywood for years will be able to connect the dots and realize that my friend who inspired this poem is the same one who inspired “Ovation”, with both of these pieces being two of the most humbling and satisfying things I have ever written…


19 replies »

  1. This evokes so many memories of playing with my brother, making houses out of sheets, castles out of empty boxes, when we played cowboys and Indians and I always insisted on being the Indian. Makes me wonder if kids today bother to set down their phones and iPads to play a make believe game.


  2. There is first a hushed silence, people muted, their senses overwhelmed.
    By beauty from another’s life, experiences from their pen.
    Then quietly, a ripple and the sound of someone crying softly in the back
    That grows to a roar, people cheering, clapping and not a few tears spotted
    On withered cheeks that once were apple round.

    You amaze me. This sent cold chills down my spine and reminded me that when the leaves turn and the air grows chilly, I’m not alone in remembering those who have gone to a brighter place, where hopes and dreams merely thoughts can become reality. May it be swift that we can join the happy throng that waits for us there.

    Bless you Brian. Now excuse me, I have smoke in my eyes…


  3. This poem displays the depth of your writing talent.

    There are a few lines that really jumped out at me:

    “Things are left unsaid, actions not taken, because we don’t fully grasp time until the hourglass is abruptly dry, broken”, and

    “Save a place for me, intrepid warrior, you who went where I did not”.

    Both are such a poignant sigh of heartfelt loss. Beautiful, Brian ❤️


  4. You, sir, are one of the good ones. This was achingly beautiful and touching and heartfelt.
    And once again I find myself wishing I knew you in high school. I could have used a friend like you.


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