I dreamt I stood on a summit with a bird clasped in my hands, its opalescent feathers peeking between my gentle fingers. My footing felt unsure and the breeze persuasive. Early morning made my skin, the air, the umber soil dewy and cool and the sun crept slowly across the cliff in resonating bands of apricot and ocher. I did not want to let her go. I had trekked, climbed and trudged through the somber night holding her securely without use of my hands. My knees were tender and sodden from falling to them, but we had made it. And now I just didn’t want to let her go.
I looked down at how the breeze coaxed at her tufts and plumes, how gracefully they quivered and knew she was not meant for hands. I lifted my face and beheld the misty blue openness before me. We were so high. She belonged in the open, not grasped between flesh and leaves and branches and whispers. Breathing deeply, her finger cage trembling, I spread my hands apart into a platform. First one wing then another she spread, and expanded catching rays of morning like reflections on her pearly downs. She did not hesitate. She flapped and went. She was free.
I watched her like glimmering glass dive and fly out into the empty space, the only sound in the valley the murmur of her wings, until she was just a memory lost to the distant haze. Standing in silence, I basked in her freedom. I had wanted to follow her, but I didn’t. I had wanted to take that great leap, too, but I didn’t. I stood with my feet rooted to the leaf-laden rocks and longed. I was so high. Stretching my cramping fingers, then brushing off my weakened knees, I began my slow, arduous journey back down the summit.