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Necessity of Flight
by Jane Alynn
55 poems/115 pages/$16.00
Cherry Grove Collections

Reviewed by Ed Bennett

We are a land bound species, unable to swim for any great length nor are we able to slip the shackles of gravity and launch ourselves skyward. We have created machines that allow us to move through these alien environments, moving us from point A to point B with the deliberation of a machine. And yet, in our dreams and deep within our being is an envy of those creatures that can fly. We soar behind our closed eye and sometimes when we are awake we cannot help but look into the blue element with longing. Such is the human condition.

Jane Alynn believes that flight is a necessity for us as well as the birds that we envy. We look skyward, find our inspiration in wings pulling against the ether. The true beauty in this collection of poems is the way Ms. Alynn guides us skyward within the framework of living. We can be set free of our fetters if we simply pay attention and allow our lives to elevate us beyond our limits.

An act as mundane as applying for a job in a food store, the willingness to stack shelves for customers so they can gather and shop, takes on a greater meaning. The customers, amid the food and wine, become deliberate in their choices, raising themselves beyond the simple act of grocery shopping until their actions become

“flapping like that kingfisher
in the labyrinth of abundance.”

It would be difficult to turn down an application with such fine imagery. I do hope she was hired.

Throughout the book, simple acts, be they a lovers argument, an elder straining to remember, gardening or a power failure, all turn to the sky, looking at the freedom of flight. This desire for the freedom inherent in a bird’s flight is at its most poignant in “In Want of Wings”. Looking at a gathering of trumpeter swans the narrator envies them and expresses a desire for wings from the very beginning of existence:

“…A child launched into darkness dreams
of human flight not forbidden, being borne
swiftly on a rush of wind, those miraculous pinions
in perfect rhythm of progression, blood feeding feathers,
wings pumping…”

The image here is interesting. Birth launches a child into light. The word “darkness” indicates something prior to birth. In utero, we dream of flight, perhaps suspended in the weightlessness of amniotic fluid, dreaming of wings pulling us free. Trumpeter swans are among the largest of birds that can fly, pulling a seemingly impossible bulk into the air. Even in our earliest dreams, Ms. Alynn finds the desire, the necessity, for flight.

Ms. Alynn finds this necessity for flight in places where most of us merely pass by. How does she do this? She tells us in the final poem, “Chuckanut Drive, In Winter”. It is a simple process:

“I go slow
along this road
to see things clearly.

A resident eagle
this evening
soars silently in
circles, her eye
on the bay below.”

Go slowly, look at your surroundings, let yourself be free. If there is beauty in simplicity, Ms. Alynn has discovered the means to find it.

Seldom have I read a collection of poetry where the theme is so completely integrated into the fabric of the poetry. The longing for the freedom of flight is palpable and after reading just a few of the poems, the reader is drawn skyward, joining the menagerie of swans and owls, eagles and sparrows.

We all dream. We all wish to slip the gravitational prison of earth and soar, be it spiritually or actually. Ms. Alynn has captured a dream, fashioned it with words so all of us can share it. Read this book and find your place in the firmament.


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