Young swallow, curious about the world beyond his nest,
Fiery, brimming of a newt’s zest,
First decided to visit humans,
Strange group, conspicuous like banyans.
He flew over a rural one-room school
And heard this, “Golden rule:
Poor student, classroom is key to better tomorrow.”
A pledge echoed by all pupils, row by neat row.
Still seeking more knowledge,
He reached the dorm of a college,
And perched on a pole at its entrance,
Where he witnessed some interesting utterance:
“Which car to ask for my graduation gift?
Beamer, Lexus? Decision needs to be swift.”
Intrigued, he flew over the inner city,
An area very congested and gritty,
Landing on the gate of a jailhouse,
And saw youth, outdoors playing, and in sweats, doused.
Verbal exchanges among the inmates.
“Staying in school won’t end up with jail mates.”
“So true. Learn a trade, don’t chase some stupid dope,
Easy money but leaves one without any hope.”
Back at nest, “Learn anything today?”
Cackled his mom. “ I must say.
Humans’ world is strange and confusing.”
Peculiar use of opportunity of school choosing
And learning. Some seem very motivated,
Poor or affluent. Some not keen on being educated.
They talk past and not to each other
They need to help one another.
Lacking learning will needs no free pass
For that will only embolden one’s nutty sass.”
Young swallow, on second day of his quest,
Of seeing world beyond his nest
Wanted to explore on his own the flying world,
Nary his mom’s permission or wisdom,
Full of hubris on his way to see that kingdom.
He soon discovered the many species unfurled,
Some pleasant, nice and generous,
Some vicious and even rapacious.
Over a wide-open space filled with runways,
A raw scene from then on etched in his mind always:
Metallic bird, very noisy and beak-less
Sucked in, ground many flying birds; merciless.
Next was an eerie encounter with predators,
Powerful, heavily clawed competitors,
Survival instinct helped with narrow escape,
Or beginner’s luck, helped evasion with slight scrape.
Adventure with Mother Nature was just beginning.
Suddenly storm formed with frazzling bolt of lightning.
Cowed, swallow sought the nearest refuge,
And rested on a large branch ’til 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.
When its mom saw his face masked by terror,
“The flying world is not for the meek, without room for error,”
Cackled the swallow to his mom upon his return home,
A life lesson, handy each time he ventured to roam.
On the third day, both went aloft together
To learn daily routines, his mom as bellwether,
Flew over the various sites that Nature created,
Eluding the foes, commingling with friends, while they debated.
First sun’s rays, bright but soothing, 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, metallic birds, held in immense fear.
Plunged to the nadir, admired stunning mountains.
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 written in a famous book on life’s bookshelf.
“Mom, what is your secret for lasting this long?”
“No secret. You pick your spot and keep going strong.”
This swallow mastered gallivanting over a wide territory,
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.”
Reynald Altéma, MD.