“The Deluxe Edition” by Alexandra Umlas

Alexandra Umlas


This morning’s stories include a bald eagle
about to board a Southwest plane, his handler
taking him through the TSA checkpoint
in North Carolina, him flexing his wings, as if to say
look what I can do. I can fly and I can fly
Some things still surprise us, this Eagle’s flight,
how delicious my breakfast tastes today, green
olives stuffed with almonds and fresh-striped
figs, their skins filled with August-ripeness,
and Fagles’ translation of Homer’s The Iliad open
to page 265, Achilles, always dying, and also always
living, speaking (again), two fates bear me on
to the day of death. One, a journey home
with no glory. Another, a journey away from life
but with everlasting glory—Oh the choices
we must make in any life! And I wonder
what Homer would have to say about an eagle
on a plane, the pages he might have filled today
with wings being winged in an aluminum miracle,
everything so different and everything the same,
how we still get from one place to the next
or don’t, how an eagle is even now an eagle
and an omen that tells us there is always something
new to see—open your wings and look—

from Poets Respond
August 31, 2022


Alexandra Umlas: “I’m grateful to books and to the authors of books, who show us that we are not alone in our vacillation between delight and despair—and that delight often wins! Or, if it doesn’t win, it at least surprises us into momentary joy. I found myself delighted (and perplexed) by the idea of this Eagle on a plane, who is now also on a page, which is its own kind of journey.” (web)

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