I learned recently that in order to fly, birds depend on resistance. It makes sense, and perhaps it’s obvious that they’d need something sturdy to push off from and lift themselves into the air. But as these things go, it took poetry for this fact to resonate with and inspire me.
In Jeanine Hathaway’s poem “Why Obedience Is The Only Vow,” she writes, “Dynamics of flight insist / upon resistance.” Here, resistance is mighty and positive. It’s a thing to celebrate and be grateful for. It is not a shield to protect, but rather something hearty to use to send yourself into the world.
This poem is an “ex-nun” poem of Hathway’s. The ex-nun is a character she uses in some of her poems in the chapbook The Ex-Nun Poems, and these are the ones I pay the closest attention to. I know Hathaway was a nun for a time, and so I read these poems as if I’m doing detective work, wondering what she is trying to say about what she understands about this vocation and herself. Since reading her ex-nun poetry, I’ve been contemplating writing stories with an ex-teacher as a main character. I think it would help me distance myself from the profession, as well as see what of teaching remains in me and that might be used.
Maybe creating an ex-teacher character would be the piece of resistance that would allow me to take flight.
Write a poem about what it is you can resist in order to take flight.
Thank you to everyone who participated in last week’s poetry prompt. Here’s one from Megan Willome we enjoyed:
“the heart dwells in unattended dark”–John O’Donohue, “To Bless the Space Between Us”
O weary heart, I attend to thee
with mangoes and moonlight
bicycles and thistles
cool tea and warm poetry
Though you feel too
full for a whole ‘nother day
you bump along through the dark
Bless you, heart
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Twirl is writing magic.
“This book is writing gold. This book, like all of Callie’s writing, makes me sit up and pay attention to my life. She reminds me why I write my own stories—fiction and non-fiction—to make sense of the world, my thoughts, my dreams, my reflection, etc. She reminds us that real life, our every day ordinary lives, are beautiful and worth taking a closer look. There’s always more to learn about ourselves and not everything has to have a bow tied on top. We don’t always have to arrive when we think we’ve reached the end, and TWIRL is such a beautiful reminder of that. There’s magic in this book.” – Tracy Erler