flying and falling
the difference
looking ahead
to open air
an anxious gaze
at the ground

Note: This was inspired by a bird flying outside my window.

I played with different versions of this poem. Initially, there was more structure – firmer sentences, more words, capitalisation, punctuation, but it felt airier stripping that out. I tried to tease out exactly what phrases captured those feelings of an optimistic vision ahead and staring down in dread; there were so many more words I could have used, but I thought these feelings might be familiar enough that stripping back the adjectives would engage the reader’s imagination even more.

There was a version of this where ‘looking’ was ‘a look’ – making it a poem free from verbs (suspended in a sense?). But instinctively this contrast felt better, and actually highlights the difference between verb/doing (‘looking’) and paralysing ourselves with the fixed state of a noun (‘an anxious gaze’).

It was interesting choosing a photo to match with this poem, and made me reflect again how much those visuals can impact the feel of the words. Photos that were bright or that featured a crowd of birds had a totally different feel. I actually pictured a calm sky when I was writing, perhaps something blue and hopeful – but this image of an ominous mist or brewing storm feels like it makes the message land even more powerfully.