Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Flying Crooked

Flying Crooked

The butterfly, a cabbage-white,
(His honest idiocy of flight)
Will never now, it is too late,
Master the art of flying straight,
He has -who knows so well as I?-
A just sense of how not to fly:
He lurches here and here by guess
And God and hope and hopelessness.
Even the aerobatic swift
Has not his flying-crooked gift.
-- Robert Graves

When I was small, Dad would read this poem to me at night before I went to bed. (I had low tastes.) The words hit me in the funny bone like a reflex hammer hits that little bone in your knee - the one that contains electricity so that when the doctor taps it with the hammer a spark flies up and closes a circuit and your leg leaps up of its own accord and hits the doctor in the chin.
I just couldn't help myself.  The kicker was that line "he lurches here and here by guess and god and hope and HOPELESSNESS-  Dad would read it and I woud be off, my mind full of bits of color that didn't know the faintest thing about direction, rolling across my bed and shrieking with laughter at the cleverness of Mr Grave's understanding of butterflies.

Yesterday I saw an out of season bit of orange fluttering myopically along our back fence.
It reminded me.

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