An-Nur: Taking Flight

for Jennifer Stokley

 

The job description of a human being

begins unfolding in a place of safety,

nest in a cavity thirty feet up in

 

a tree. Wood-duck hatchings spend their

early days waiting and trusting their mother

to feed them. They do not understand why

 

they are itching, why their down is falling

out, why something stronger growing in.

But soon enough, what the mother offers

 

in the place of safety fails to completely

satisfy their hunger, they feel a need

for deeper nourishment. Perhaps within

 

their bones they are beginning to hear

the call of water. Just because they start

here in the safety of the nest does not

 

mean this is their entire destiny. The job

description of a human being is fledging,

then stretching those wings, taking that

 

first flight despite all fear, launching

from the initial place of safety, being

willing to look and feel clumsy, taking

 

a step that seems unsupported by no more

than their own small wings, nothing more

than air between them and the ground.

 

 

An-Nur: Poem Still Unfolding

(italicized lines are from Howie Good’s poems “Exile”  and “The Strange Situation Procedure” in his  2016 collection A Ghost Sings, A Door Opens)

 

The job description of a human being
is to continue staring, wide-eyed
into the darkness until the shapes
within it begin to make some sense.

I know this place, I’ve walked
here before in daylight. My feet
today follow precisely the same path
that they have taken each and every
day these many years. The ground I
walk on is no different than it’s
been, I walk in my own footprints.

It is like this: I have a daily dawn
appointment with the sunrise. I am
here, as always, but the sun is
tardy, and I’ve begun to wonder whether
it won’t show, has better things to do.
A grounded sparrow / gazes skyward
a place / just up the stairs /

but somehow / suddenly / hard to find.
But the job description of a human being
is to continue staring, wide-eyed, into
the darkness.

 

 

An-Nur: Poem Ending with Lines from Ruben

(italicized lines are from Ruben Quesada’s poem)

 

“Girl with Prayer”
The job description of a human being
is to be more than just the flame

sipping from the wick that floats
atop the oil of the lamp. Sometimes

I must be the whole of it – flame
and also wick and fuel and vessel,

I must carry the whole of it within
me. When darkness comes on suddenly

and drags me, strips me to the bone,
when someone else must help me limp

toward a place of safety, I must
carry within me sweet balm, attar

of roses, basil, myrrh. Heart is
lamp and lips are wick, and prayer

is flame. I am a child turning /

the corner toward home.

 

Laura M Kaminski (Halima Ayuba) is an Editor at Right Hand Pointing; she is also Poetry Editor and Editor of the digital chapbook series at Praxis Magazine Online. She is the author of several poetry collections and chapbooks, most recently the chapbook 19 Ghazal Street and the full-length collection Anchorhold.