According to some traditions, the soul at death is weighed against a feather.
And feathers, by other, more recent traditions, evolved from scales.
4 November 2015
New Feathers on New Scales
You lift up your throat: It’s constricted by insects. You, love, have cherished a grave for so long,
a million white wings all set forth like spring blossoms as you sigh and writhe and frail bones turn to song
you’re now to to make, the music of everything—wrung out of everything never once love.
You’re going to see it all set down and laid, night after next, like the ghost of a dove
that sought out but never, through all her exertions, discovered the ark she’d been sent out to find.
All the globe carved up all over a table—It looks like a preordained sweet orange rind,
the type ancient virgins once tore into ribbons. If one stayed intact, future bliss was assured.
If one should break open untimely, you’ve already died, and your soul has for ages endured—
all it has to, and will. Child, you’ve bloomed into ashes; the flies all buzz round here, but butterflies, too.
Walk with your hands by your sides till you reach the next margin beyond the great trees, where the view
of all the broad ocean keeps breathing, keeps seething, keeps minding the heart at the source of your soul
that someone behind you has hands and arms held out and always, just always, will offer the bowl
that’s angled to catch the pure rain of high heaven. The dear smile behind the glad strength of love’s will
comes staring through you and your dreams in the moment when Suns rearise, while the sky is quite still.
You’ll have been beautiful then for the strangest of times. You’re a comfort to mere mortal men,
though it cannot quite show in your mirror if you will not let any mirror behold you. Child, when
the song rearises for which you first opened your throat, you will feel yourself drowning. No fear
lies behind this. You know you are holiness woken to hold itself higher than floodwaters. We’re
the wing-bearers; we are the bright-winged angels; we are the stone at the source of the grave:
Lighter than magic, and borne on the wings of wild doves, wild with song, it was you I would save
from even the faintest slight hint of complex and unhappy remembrances. They’ll all-ways try
to find you and use you again for the strength of the soul you imagined would teach you to fly;
let only the ones you most love hear you sing this. Sing it out each time you breathe, but your throat—
Feel just how many they are, and how holy—the angels whose scales favor every new note.