Whenever I need to retreat from the world’s bleaker narratives, I find it helps me to think of birds. Sometimes they’re metaphorical birds, as in Mary Oliver’s White-Eyes:
all the singing is in
the tops of the trees
where the wind-bird
with its white eyes
shoves and pushes
among the branches.
Or a range of birds of all kinds through several centuries, as in The Poetry of Birds, edited by Simon Armitage and Tim Dee.
Or a photograph of vultures in India, seen here nesting on an ancient monument in Orchcha, Madhya Pradesh. Vultures are still in heartstopping danger despite grand announcements of recovery plans.
Then there’s the annual miracle of bird migration. It’s easy to become mesmerized by the flowing patterns of flight on the remarkable animated map from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, created from millions of observations from the eBird citizen science database, and documenting the migratory movements of 118 different species.
Or this account of the massive scale and the fragile balance of the Amur falcon migration that goes in an east-west as well as a north-south direction, 2,400 miles from eastern Asia to wintering grounds in southern Africa.
“All the singing voices,” Mary Oliver says. And all the soaring wings. I try to carry them in me, to the best of my ability.