Of Birds in Flight and Angel Music

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Of Birds in Flight and Angel Music, poem by Darlene Witte


When I first felt that delicate brush
that soft touch
of something more, something other
a wider awareness.
Was it some where beyond myself.

Hearing a voice
but there was no voice
no words
no thoughts
only a gentle touch.

I felt it come toward me above the left side
of my head, something from above.

I was in the little church in Bowness
not far from our house.
In Sunday School. Sitting at a table,
a teacher and four other children
some crayons, broken all of them
some pieces short, some long
and paper.

It was ok that the crayons were broken.
I didn’t know how to use them,
or I didn’t care. They scraped across the
paper and left no mark. Too many
hands had clutched them before perhaps.
I don’t know.
But I’ve always remembered that little touch
from a hand that wasn’t there, it moved
as soft as a glance
from eyes not mine.


After my mother died
the touch came again.

Angels? Her spirit?

I don’t know.
I did not need to name what I felt.

The day after her funeral
when I woke up in the morning.
I heard the sound of music
felt a soft warmth around me.

The music came each morning
all the years I was growing up.
In my mind.
Inside that quiet morning place.

It stayed with me until I left the room.

I learned to listen for it
and there it was
in that moment

Not always the same.
Sometimes one kind of music
sometimes another.
Sometimes a tune I already knew.
Sometimes a tune from another place.

It’s kind of hard to remember now
to put it into words
and yet the memory is perfectly clear.
It was always there.
Until I woke up one day and it was gone.
Vanished. I felt bereft, used to companionship.


It’s come back
each morning, once again.

Like writing a poem
some of it’s already inside.
Some of it’s not.
Sometimes it comes from a plane
that is like memory but is not quite memory.

Like the day
I drove across the bridge and
down along the river
just to see the water shining.
I didn’t need to drive down that road
for any other reason
but I wanted to remember the look
of bright sun running with water,
edged with little rivulets and glister.
I saw birds flying. Crows playing with the wind.

As I drove I thought about
how when birds fly
their wings leave a trace in the sky.

In church that morning so many years ago
did the other children at the table beside me
feel that touch? Were any of them looking
up trying to catch their eyes on that
flow, that trace of movement?


A wing in flight
a touch, a glance
this is the lingering presence
of those angels,
or of birds, their feathers ruffling the wind,
trackless, they lift themselves along
toward their hidden

Birds’ wings
leave presence
in the sky
as they float over the river ice
following the meltwater.

As they flow,
words, as birds,
take free flight

Beat upward and rise toward light falling on water
lifted up by the merest glance
from eyes not mine
gliding along the shimmers,
glimmers reflected.


See, in-take the layers of light as the birds do.
We don’t often see them, the colors hidden
The birds know how to look.


Sometimes the inner morning sounds I hear
are quite symphonic
complex and full
with melodies that rise and fall.
Swell and fade.

Crow hears music, perhaps the same.
She comes.
Beats toward me, her wings rise and fall.
Comes to earth beside me.
Catches me to her heart.
Carries me to my work.

Today we, together, Crow and I
and the angels never stop singing.
We bend, we lift what must become,
what is waiting to be born and take wing
out of solid rock. Out of the slow moving of mind.

With slow waiting comes something more.
With long fastened-tight-open
hands and eyes that resist the fading
of those traces of flight.
Call it focus
What my grandmother called
Endurance. Strong

Angel turns the rock into water.
Wind lifts, and scatters that water
as rain over earth
and from there comes the growth.
The pine tree, blasted on the mountain top
black with wind, black from lonely, frosted nights
that never seem to end.

Or perhaps a fall of nasturtium blossoms
scarlet and golden
across the garden fence
a jar of tea made from mint and
chamomile and bit of pineapple sage.
A spoonful of parsley
a fingerful of thyme.

Always the parsley. Always the thyme.
Always the heart of nasturtiums, open
always the pines, bending with the wind.
Darlene Witte
Darlene Witte

Professor of Education, (retired) at Johnson State College in Vermont leads the Green Mountain Writers' Poetry & Performance workshop that meets on Zoom each month on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays at 7 PM ET. Find out more at https://www.meetup.com/green-mountain-writers

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