If you could have wings would you want them?
I don’t know.
I mean, if you could use them to fly, would you want them?
Yes, if I could fly.
But they would be really big.
They might brush against your knees as you walked, or be bigger than some doorways.
And what if you couldn’t even take them off?
I still would want them.
If you couldn’t take them off, even if you were going somewhere, or going to bed, or eating at a table, or you wanted to pick someone up, you could never take them off?
Yes, I would. I would still want them.
Because you could fly?
Yes, because of the flying.
And if they were heavy, and even if no one else had them, and even if your children and their children didn’t have them?
Yes, I think so.
But you would still have arms and hands and legs, and you could still speak, but you had wings, too. You would want the wings, too?
Yes, I would want the wings, too.
And when you were walking around, people would stare at you, and they wouldn’t necessarily understand that you could fly?
I understand. I understand that they wouldn’t understand.
Or if people thought they meant something, something they didn’t really mean?
I would know what the wings were for.
And if you had them, forever—the forever, I mean, that is your life, you would still want them?
Yes, I would want them. I would take them, so long as I could fly.
that I might fly away
that I might fly away where the ships
that I might fly away where the ships of pine wood pass between the dark cliffs
The American Poetry Review: Vol. 28 No. 4
Four in the Morning
The hour from night to day.
The hour from side to side.
The hour for those past thirty.
The hour swept clean to the crowing of cocks.
The hour when earth betrays us.
The hour when wind blows from extinguished stars.
The hour of and-what-if-nothing-remains-after-us.
The hollow hour.
The very pit of all other hours.
No one feels good at four in the morning.
If ants feel good at four in the morning
–three cheers for the ants. And let five o’clock come
if we’re to go on living.
Translated by Magus J. Krynski and Robert A. Maguire
From Sounds, Feelings, Thoughts: Seventy Poems by Wislawa Szymborska (Princeton UP, 1981)
I often come across feathers on my walks, and I usually do stop to take a picture (or ten), but rarely find my photos of much interest afterwards, from a compositional point of view. This particular feather, however, scattered among several others, seemed so fluffy and bright. This and the others are (were) quite small… only a few inches long. I didn’t pick them up or move them. In fact, this is often the challenge I give myself when photographing things on the ground. I take the shot as is, no moving things around or rearranging to “improve the scene.” I don’t know why I’ve made this rule for myself, but it seems to have worked its way into my way of doing things. What about you? Do you impose completely arbitrary rules on your creative process? Should I stop this madness?