Poetry Friday: Julia Kasdorf – Flying Lesson

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Poetry Friday is hosted by Robyn Hood Black Life on the Deckle Edge

Spring. The last quarter of the school year. Decision time for college and high school.  My ex students have been stopping by recently to share news of their various flight paths – they are sorting through acceptances and offers, mulling decisions and commitments.  Some who were absolutely certain about where they wanted to be, are now reconsidering; and some who seemed to have no clear idea or sense of purpose, now seem enthused and directed.  I listen to their soliloquies – after all, they have come to give voice to their own thoughts and dreams, they are not in search of any words of counsel.  I listen as they spin their dreams, the far away expression in their eyes  telling me what I already know…they have left, they are on their way…godspeed, my young friends…

Teaser birds

Flying Lesson 

Over a tray of spent plates, I confessed
to the college president my plans to go East,
to New York, which I’d not really seen,
though it seemed the right place
for a sophomore as sullen and restless
as I had become on that merciless
Midwestern plain. He slowly stroked
a thick cup and described the nights
when, a theology teacher in Boston, he’d fly
a tiny plane alone out over the ocean,
each time pressing farther into the dark
until the last moment, when he’d turn
toward the coast’s bright spine, how he loved
the way the city glittered beneath him
as he glided gracefully toward it,
engine gasping, fuel needle dead on empty,
the way sweat dampened the back of his neck
when he climbed from the cockpit, giddy.
Buttoned up in my cardigan, young, willing
to lose everything, how could I see generosity
or warning? But now that I’m out here,
his advice comes so clear: fling yourself
farther, and a bit farther each time,
but darling, don’t drop.

Julia Kasdorf


11 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Julia Kasdorf – Flying Lesson

  1. I love every bit of this post. Imagining you listening to the dreams and plans of your students (seeing your own work ready to go out and test itself on the world), the art, the poem. **sigh**

  2. I suspect you have given your students the idea always to “fling yourself farther”, Tara. This is wonderful to think about, those students preparing to fly. Our students too are dropping in. It’s marvelous to see them isn’t it?

  3. Like everyone else, I was taken by the last three lines:

    “fling yourself
    farther, and a bit farther each time,
    but darling, don’t drop.”

    How wonderful it must be to hear your students’ plans and to witness their growth – such a privilege, such a gift.

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