Flight Risk

In 2007, a dear friend and poet, Bob Mackenzie, wrote this lovely piece for me…

animal avian beak biology

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Flight Risk

Her soaring thoughts bear her up on gossamer and hard realities, her wings carry me with her
to another place only her mind can take mine
and with her I soar upward as I’ve never soared.

“I am a flight risk teetering on some slight edge, ready to flee at a moment’s notice,” she says.

There is a small brown bird, a finch, unpresuming, tourists buy in cages from asian street sellers because her singing is so sweet, so beautiful
and, before the tourist reaches home, the bird dies.

What cage shall I build and of what material will not forever stop her soaring singing heart? How clip those wings of fantasy and hold her in never again to soar so high and I soar too?

What risk in flight is so great it must be taken
away and the blue sky blocked from view and the wings never again to soar nor that brown bird’s sweet song heard, its heart stopped at the bottom of some bamboo cage?

She is a flight risk, no doubt, but that’s the tension, the beauty of her as something in her flies high escaping to some realm all her own and sometimes, just sometimes carrying me with her to rapture.

I would take the risk to fly away in her wake
and if she turned away and flew beyond my reach
would still have known the joy of glorious flight
while somewhere in the wild a small brown bird still sings.

“I am a flight risk teetering on some slight edge, ready to flee at a moment’s notice,” she says.

Bob Mackenzie, 2007

I’d like to believe I’ve grown up a slight bit and have managed to nail my feet to a perch but  … it just ain’t so. I have taken to standing on my toes, stretching my wings, teetering on ideas, ready to leap.

Some of it is stress related, I know. It’s always easier to flee troubles than deal with them. I have a bunch of things to deal with on my plate and I am avoiding the temptation to toss them in the recycle bin. They are, of course, important to no one but me.

I realized my feet weren’t fully dug in when two things happened. First, I went to visit Annapolis Royal. I so loved that town, for all sorts of reasons. It was such a healing place for me that it still calls to a corner of my heart, beckoning me back. I know I could barely avoid crying when I was there (it was verdant springtime and the place was aglow). I know my heart sings whenever I cross over the hills past Windsor and see the Blomindon escarpment, the start of the Annapolis Valley…

But it’s silliness. I am far from things there, far from friends and access to good libraries and art galleries, etc etc. (Seriously, though, I have enough books to keep me reading for a couple of years even without the Halifax Regional Libraries, which I adore.) Far from my health care team, all of whom are wonderful. Far from a certain someone. From many certain someones. It makes no sense to leave here. But…

Then I received a registered letter asking me if I wanted to sign my lease for another year. I could go month to month, it said, at a slightly higher monthly cost. What a horrid choice to force me to make. Me, on my tiptoes and wings spread, fluttering in the wind, and they offer me a CHOICE?

I’ve moved a lot since I moved to Halifax, relocating as I try to get closer to downtown. I’m now downtown and still my wings flutter! What is all that about? I have the ‘hood that I love, my apartment is the BEST EVER, and yet…

My middle son has vowed to never move me again. My youngest son thinks I am seriously deranged and has pointed out that the truth is, no matter where I go, there I am. Moving is dashed expensive.

I know it’s really emotional wanderlust. It’s that longing for a home to return to that I never truly had. Every time people here talk about their long-time friends and family next door, I feel a bit bereft. I miss my family history, my links with the past. Something about moving in my senior year of high school separated me from one set of friends; the military lifestyle pulled me from the rest. The move to Halifax cut me from my family. People here only know me as MS DA, not as the DA who was competent, working. They and their friends have been friends for decades.


For a while, it wasn’t hard being the CFA (come from away). I made friends, new ones. I love them all. We have fun together, I try new things, we explore and hang out and laugh. But there is always a spot of distance, whether from me or them, I don’t know.


When we moved to Seattle in my senior year of high school, I was happy. My mother wasn’t. She felt what I am feeling now – she would say to me, “Everyone is friendly here, but they aren’t friends, real friends…”

As I grow older, I realize she meant there weren’t any OLD friends who shared her history there. Their friendship was short term, exciting and warm, but without the back story of parenting and lives in service to the community and fights and bridge games and laughter. At the time, I thought she was a spoilsport (living in Seattle was fun!), but there is something in what she said.

So maybe that’s why I tremble on my toes. I’m missing my historical friends, the ones I went to school with, the ones who saw me marry, helped me understand my kids, encouraged me when I was struggling.

Of course, the truth is my friends here are becoming old friends. Perhaps all I need is patience… and some lead shoes…