The Perpetual Migration

October 1, 2003

[soaring bird](This poem was written by Marge Piercy and is from The Moon Is Always Female, published by Knopf in 1980. It speaks to me, and I wanted to share it with all of you who are part of this journey, this soliton energy, this yearning we call the emerging church.

…Lest I give the impression that I am well-read, let me add that I literally got this off a bathroom stall at work, where poetry is posted.)

How do we know where we are going?
How do we know where we are headed
till we in fact or hope or hunch
arrive? you can only criticize,
the comfortable say, you don’t know
what you want. Ah, but we do.

We have swung in the green verandas
of the jungle trees. We have squatted
on cloud-grey granite hillsides where
every leaf drips. We have crossed
badlands where the sun is sharp as flint.
We have padded into the tall dark sea
in canoes. We always knew.

Peace, plenty, the gentle wallow
of intimacy, a bit of Saturday night
and not too much Monday morning,
a chance to choose, a chance to grow,
the power to say no and yes, pretties
and dignity, an occasional jolt of truth.
The human brain, wrinkled slug, knows
like a computer, like a violinist, like
a bloodhound, like a frog. We remember
backwards a little and sometimes forwards,
but mostly we think in the ebbing circles
a rock makes on the water.

The salmon hurtling upstream seeks
the taste of the waters of its birth
but the seabird on its four-thousand-mile
trek follows charts mapped on its genes.
The brightness, the angle, the sighting
of the stars shines in the brain luring
till inner constellation matches outer.
The stark black rocks, the island beaches
of waveworn pebbles where it will winter
look right to it. Months after it set
forth it says, home at last, and settles.
Even the pigeon beating its short whistling
wings knows the magnetic tug of arrival.

In my spine a tidal clock tilts and drips
and the moon pulls blood from my womb.
Driven as a migrating falcon, I can be blown
off course yet if I turn back it feels
wrong. Navigating by chart and chance
and passion I will know the shape
of the mountains of freedom, I will know.

Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

11 responses to The Perpetual Migration

  1. Wow, Jon thanks. Seriously similar to undertones in Blue Like Jazz…

  2. good stuff..how do you put the groanings and longings of your spirit into words ? not possible…

  3. jon, that’s outstanding. do you write often?

  4. Jeph, I think you skipped over the first sentence. Go up to the bird and take a right.

  5. Great read. What a freeing and enticing read.
    WH

  6. Jon gives yet another person the bird. =)

  7. jared, jared , jared (as I shake my head)

  8. Jared, you sabotaging sabotager

  9. He hijacked the comments section!
    Thanks for posting, Jon.

  10. Wow…they had time to write all of that on a bathroom stall.
    That must have been one serious case of constipation.

  11. Ok, I just saw it. Actually, your site doesn’t always load completely on my screen. I’m not sure why that is. Probably just an indication I have an old browser. I scrolled up and saw nothing, then I went back and voila! Well, it would’ve been cool if you’d written it, too. =)