Show Me The Birds, and I Will Know Longing
Ariel Francisco begins his poem, “Baton Bleu” telling us about longing, but it is the flamingo that’s flying overhead that I watch. It is a still dark morning in January; my eyes sting from lack of sleep. I am cold. The first drips of coffee sound tinny as they fall into the pot, and it turns my stomach. The flamingo flies and five times Ariel Francisco writes, “I think,” as the bird “cuts through the sky” like “a pink axe.” He thinks of Tony Montana. he thinks of Florida. He thinks about Lottery billboards and Baton Rouge. Still the bird is flying and Ariel thinks of swamps and a boy who believed that birds didn’t fly south, but to the moon, for the winter.
The light on my coffeepot clicks off, telling me the water has gone through the percolator, but it is not time to pour a mug. The water still pools in the filter and will seep slowly into the beans and then into the pot. It is a slow process that results in the best flavor, and I am grateful for it usually, but especially this morning because Ariel says, “we all have moons/we long to return to,” and the flamingo is still flying and I want to keep watching and I want to think about which moons I long to return to.
There are crumbs on the dining room table from last night’s dinner, or maybe it was from three nights ago. A blanket unfolded and a book open on itself lie on the living room couch. A basket of nail polish is on the floor. Last night, Hadley painted her nails the color the sun makes when it’s spilled across a white morning sky – orange and pink and coral all mixed together – the same color of the flamingo I’ve been watching, and that I didn’t know could fly.
“Baton Bleu” is about longing, but Ariel Francisco uses the flamingo to explore what longing looks like and feels like. We don’t know specifically what the poet longs for, but we don’t need to know what someone else longs for in order to understand our own. This week, take a theme like longing or desire (it is February after all), and give it wings. Show us where it flies.
Photo by Bibhash (Knapsack.life) Banerjee Creative Commons, via Unsplash. Post by Callie Feyen.
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