The Feather

by Thomas D. Absher

Do not make the mistake
of studying alchemy
before you have studied
the one feather left in your yard
by a raven, maybe left there
just for you, one among
the many hundreds which
enclose the raven in a glossy panoply
of pitch black, iridescent blue,
green and purple,
all the feathers joining together
to make and win
their plumage argument with gravity
for ascent, flight, for soaring, wafting,
becoming airborne and staying airborne,
wing beat after wing beat
each feather a miracle of design and beauty
whether a primary, secondary,
or contour quill
from a wing or the tail,
or a downy feather
from the inner coat of the raven’s
dark breast; do not search
for the philosopher’s stone
until you have studied this feather closely
imagining where it has been, what
it has seen, the part it has played
working in silence high over the earth,
lofting the raven up with the thermals
to glide and drift as if it were
finding its way toward heaven.