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Luci Shaw

To Be a Bird

"The birds, taking flight, lift themselves
up to heaven, and instead of hands, spread out
the cross of their wings."
I always wanted to worship
like some high bird, to fly free in prayer
without touching earth, without
the tug of gravity. But my breath
towards heaven is too often
a dry leaf in the wind
that wakes and settles again
as if the emptiness of air
cannot welcome a substance
worth more than a wish.
So, earthbound, I content myself
attending to sky patterns—eagles.
owls, swallows, even brash
gulls lifting, swooping.
And praise begins to enter me
as I learn to thank God for this
sweet slope, this unkempt green
mountain grass on which I lie,
making a cross with my arms
spread like a message to heaven.

—Luci Shaw

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