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Of Feathers, Of Flight
Adele Kenny

" . . . if I look up into the heavens I think that it will all come right . . . 
and that peace and tranquility will return again.”
? Anne Frank
That spring, a baby jay fell from its nest, and
we took it to Mrs. Levine, who told us the
mother would know our hands and never take
it back. Spring that year was a cardboard box,
a bird cradled in cotton, cries for eyedropper
food ? the wide mouth that became a beak,
feather-stalks stretched into wings. We knew,
of course, that we couldn’t keep it. (Later, we
would mark the spot with stones and twigs ?
where the bird fell, where we let it go ? and
sometimes, stopped in the middle of play,
would point and say, there, right there.)
The day we freed it, it beat, a heart-clock
(wound and sprung in Ruth Levine’s old hand)
that, finally, finding the sky, flew higher than
all the briars strung like metal barbs above the
backyard fence ? a speck of updraft ash and
gone. Heaven, fuller then for one small bird,
spread its blue wing over us and the tree and
Mrs. Levine who, breathing deeply, raised
her numbered arm to the light and moved
her thumb over each fingertip as if she could
feel to the ends of her skin the miracle edge
of freedom, of feathers, of flight.

This poem won the 2007 Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award.
Previously published in the Merton Seasonal (Summer 2007).
Used here with the author’s permission.



Adele Kenny founding director of the Carriage House Poetry Series, and poetry editor of Tiferet Journal, is the author of twenty-three books (poetry & nonfiction). Her poems have been published worldwide and have appeared in books and anthologies from Crown, Tuttle, Shambhala, and McGraw-Hill. She is the recipient of various awards, including NJ State Arts Council poetry fellowships, a Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award, the 2012 International Book Award for Poetry, and Kean University's 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award. She has read in the US, England, Ireland, and France, and has twice been a featured poet at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival. Learn more about Adele at and



Post New Comment:
Have always loved this poem, Adele! Congratulations!
Posted 04/05/2015 05:48 PM
beautifully done
Posted 04/05/2015 04:15 PM
What a beautiful poem that bears reading again and again and again, lest we forget.
Posted 04/05/2015 08:27 AM
Larry Schug:
Yes! Yes! Yes! and Bravo! What a finely crafted poem. "Of Feathers, Of Flight" is now in my YDP top five. Thank you, Adele and Jayne.
Posted 04/05/2015 08:25 AM
an amazing poem...yes, it was the numbered arms that turned it around and made me read several more times. Every line leads us to this...and to the miracle edge of freedom
Posted 04/05/2015 08:00 AM
the Ann Frank quote and the numbers on Mrs. Levine's arm made the porm especially poignant to me...
Posted 04/05/2015 01:27 AM

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