A young swallow, curious about the world beyond his nest.
Impatient, brimming of a newt’s fervor and zest.
On the first day of his maiden voyage, he set out to visit humans,
An overbearing group no doubt, but conspicuous like banyans,
A species that walked, talked, did everything but fly.
His mother consented. He was bold and not shy.
He flew over a building serving as a one-room school
And landed on the ledge of a window of a room full
Of pupils and one teacher. He witnessed a conversation
That spoke millions of one’s life summation.
Teacher to student: “What was served for breakfast?”
Answer: “This is a necessity turned into luxury I learned to do without: I fast.”
“What will you have for lunch since you need sustenance?”
“Lunch is a necessity I only occasionally have, for we live on a pittance.”
Dejected, the swallow ventured to new venues for more knowledge.
He glided over a hill and reached the dorm of a college,
And perched on a pole at its entrance,
Where he witnessed some interesting utterance:
“I am undecided about which car to ask for my graduation gift,
A Beamie or a Lexus. Either way, the decision needs to be swift.”
Intrigued, he veered course and flew over the inner city,
An area very congested and gritty,
Hovered over streets, tenements and landed on the gate of a jailhouse.
Filled to the brink, with youth, outdoors playing, and in sweats, doused.
He listened intently to verbal exchanges among the inmates.
“I wish I had stayed in school; I wouldn’t be living with jail mates.”
“So true. I wish I had learned a trade instead of chasing some stupid dope.
It made me plenty of short lasting money but left me without any hope.”
Confused by humans, the swallow went for just a stroll,
Over a calm water with a canary-colored sundown, his zest still whole.
As dusk was waning and evening was a-coming,
Weary and worried, he decided to end his daylong drifting.
Finally, when he rejoined the nest, a happy mom cackled with joy,
But warned him to be careful and not take flying like a toy.
“Tell me gallivanting bird, what did you learn about the world today?”
“The humans’ world is fascinating and confusing, I must say.
Folks who have the will to learn at school often times lack the means.
Some with proper means may lack the will but readily make mean miens
Instead of learning. Those who made it and who have the will and the means
Live in a world far removed from the other two. What that means
Is that they talk past each other, not to each other.
What their world needs is for folks to talk to one another
So that those who have the means and the will can help
Those with the will to become better via self-help.
Those without the will don’t deserve a free pass
For that will only embolden their nutty sass.”
On the second day, the swallow wanted to explore the flying world.
He figured he didn’t need his mom’s permission or her wisdom.
He left the nest, full of hubris on his way to see that kingdom.
Before long he discovered there were many species unfurled,
Some to associate with for they were nice and generous,
Some to flee, for they were vicious and even rapacious.
He flew over a wide-open space with plenty of runways
And saw a scene that would be present in his mind always:
One peculiar bird, large, made of metal, very noisy and beak-less
Sucked in many birds, ground and roasted them. It was merciless.
His fright worsened when he ran into real birds doubling as predators.
Survival being the wind beneath his wings, he narrowly escaped.
Fate or beginner’s luck, he managed to flee with barely a scrape.
His adventure with Mother Nature was just beginning.
Suddenly a storm formed with a frazzling bolt of lightning.
Cowed, the swallow sought the nearest refuge,
And rested on a large branch till the end of the deluge,
He fled at once to reach the warmth of the nest,
Having passed the day’s tests and yearning for a good rest.
“The flying world is not for the meek, without room for errors,”
Cackled the swallow to his mom upon his return home.
All of a sudden, he remembered his mom’s previous day’s advice.
Were it not for a stroke of luck with his life he would have paid a price.
“Tell me mom, isn’t a bird meant to roam?”
“Of course, you have to learn the way and always be on the lookout.
Nothing is promised and that is what life is all about.”
“Why don’t you teach me the ropes and help me along?”
Asked the young swallow in a singsong.
“Eat some food, rest, sleep and let’s see about that tomorrow,”
Cackled the mom too happy to take him in tow.
On the third day, both went aloft together
An event so momentous but so quick as if in a blur.
This time the path was over the various sites that Nature created,
Eluding the foes, commingling with friends, while they debated.
The first rays of sun, bright but soothing, the bouquet of the morning dew
Bestowed a welcoming and auspicious debut.
Hovering over all terrains: a plateau, a flat plain, a glade,
Perusing dense foliage, peeking at anything hidden under a shade.
Swooping over a calm meadow and a bubbling brook.
Clever inspection by nook and by crook,
Bodies of water, still or flowing, oceans, streams, lakes, rivers,
All depressions of land, gullies, canyons, cliffs, craters,
Were reviewed, and feeding sources were identified.
They reached the zenith of the sky while staying clear
Of predators and metallic birds of which they had an immense fear.
They plunged to the nadir and along the way admired stunning mountains.
They rested to slake their thirst, especially at public fountains.
After exploring far and wide from hither to yon,
Mother felt comfortable to finally pass the baton.
The cycle of life was repeating itself,
As it was written in a famous book on life’s bookshelf.
“Mom, what is your secret for lasting this long?”
“There is no secret. You pick your spot and keep going strong.”
This swallow was able to live a long life and gallivant over a wide territory,
Made of a mountain, stream, valley, river and especially a large prairie.
Along the way he learned a life valuable lesson with his peers:
“Live and let live.” They all cackled to that with cheers.
Excerpted from The Voice, published August 2018.