During college, I spent several holidays at a friend’s family farm on the Musselshell in Montana. On my first Thanksgiving there, Abby gave me the full tour. On the property stood an abandoned yellow farmhouse—the remains of a township that had tried to survive on the vast plains. She climbed the stoop and reached for the door knob, turning to me with a smile. “Would you like pillows?”
I followed her inside to find a house filled with goose feathers. With each of our steps, the topmost feathers lifted in welcome. Some wafted and shivered as if remembering wings. We began filling bags with the cloudy masses of white.
That afternoon, Abby made me a set of pillows on her mother’s sewing machine. That night, I slept on memories of flight. I’d like to think I had marvelous, sky-filled dreams on those pillows, but I can’t remember.
A feather’s purpose is to aid flight. All by themselves, feathers are useful bedding, ink pens, or headdresses. They need the wings to fly.
I think I’ve spent a fair amount of my life focused on the equivalent of feathers.
Of late, I hear people saying, “We purpose to . . .” and “I purpose to . . . .” Unlike some nouns-turned-verbs, this one doesn’t annoy me. I kind of like the combination of decide/choose/envision that “purpose” the verb condenses into one. To purpose you must have a purpose, a vision. And without vision—it was wisely written—we die.
Once, I wrote a poem that started: Yesterday the angel came, featherless. It’s one thing to know the difference between fluff and substance. It’s another to continually remind myself.
And so: I purpose to remember my vision. How’s that for multitasking?