The warm wind hit his wings in a torrid gush, giving him lift as he flew higher and higher in circles. He scanned the flatlands beneath him, he scanned the buildings and streets and parks with their winding walkways and he gazed down at the tops of people, always the people, that scurried to and from the buildings in a seemingly blind frenzy. He swooped back southward and glanced at the flock nestled below him by the pond. They were there, huddled in their little mass, occasionally shifting about and getting up and around and feasting on the grasses and seeds. He dived low and then let a nor’easter lift him up again; lift him up hovering above the spectacle in a motionless suspension of contemplation.
He saw his mate take flight from below; she approached him in his suspension, her elegant wings imperceptibly making their adjustments in a silent dance with the wind. She approached, gracefully lifting her wings below him and to his right, mirroring his motion. Her dark eyes cast delicately his way, big soft pools of knowing and loving in those eyes. She turned suddenly in a gesture for him to follow. Perturbed, he did so in a brusque fashion, altering his path and distancing himself by tilting his body to the right, allowing the winds to guide him below her as she watched sadly from above. He stayed on her tack, preparing to break away when his indulgence ceased to be hers and came back to him.
She was but a disturbance to his solitary flights, his dance with the wind that he willed to be colder and younger and far away to the north. It was on these flights that he was apart from himself, in another place and another time, dancing with the wind in a failing quest to see something just beyond him and in his desperation he flew higher and longer each day.
Now she was here and she was once again leading him, interrupting him, disturbing his quest. He tilted his head above and saw her sad flight with her own desperate struggle, he saw her gracefully and stoically willing herself forward, always forward in a wind that conversely willed to break her.
The scene below them began to change, the buildings became more dispersed, the streets less segmented, the people and their scurrying less obtuse. He felt the first hint of the salty air and the first scent of the large expanse of the timberlands below. She was tired; tired of the long flight from the north and her exhausted wings struggled against the wind, against a force that told her to rest but she carried on, she carried on and fought the wind.
As he looked up at her struggle and pulled away from his own thoughts a fleeting beauty occurred to him, a fleeting hurt that in its own way was beauty as a struggle is beauty, a struggle that will inevitably result in loss but the hope is there and the fight is there and it was the moment that caught him, the moment of struggle that was beauty and just then, in that moment, she was beautiful to him.
He was strong and did not falter but his strength was in his wings and he let his wings take over and the moment was gone. He delved back into his world, a world free and new, he dreamed of new lands, of new oceans and new valleys and mountains and pastures green and fertile and lakes and rivers clear and teeming. His wind was his friend and a provider for the answers, answers to questions that pushed him on into the wind as the wind whispered hints of his quest, and it was the whisperings that were his love, it was the whisperings of the wind that held these answers in the midst of some far off squall that he could sense but never pinpoint.
An unexpected gust that surged from an errant sou’easter caused her to overcompensate and she dived suddenly. Frightened, she fought against the fatigue and corrected herself. Her wings strained against the winds which were becoming more powerful and more forceful. In her struggle he saw a lone feather break away from her wing and the feather dived violently down and swished past him, past them both on its way down to the ground below.
He observed the struggle, silently wondering why she struggled so, silently questioned why she fought so when it was so easy to turn back, back to her comfortable nest behind them. That is all she had to do, just turn back and rest and yet she continued on.
The land began to change below them again and the salt smell was stronger and he saw through the powerful gusts ahead a vision of splendor. It was a haze, a misty haze of baby blue that opened up to a great expanse of a greater blue, a greater blue where the sky and the earth touched and were as one. It was a dream, a dream with no memory. It was then he knew; she made this struggle for him and she had risked her life so that he may find what he had searched for on his lone circular flights. This bothersome presence only wanted to guide him here, for him.
This was not her home and she could not make it back. He knew this now as she grew ever weaker in her struggle with the wind which has always been her foe and his friend.
Another sou’easter thermal hit her full force driving her down; he saw the fall and instinctively tilted at a right angle to allow the gust to drive him away from her path. As the wind guided him away he caught a moment’s glimpse of her eyes as she aligned herself with him on her way down, a brief moment their eyes connected with her reaching out to him with pleading, desperate eyes, fighting to regain balance in an invisible chaos.
He met her glance but he arched his body still and the wind, his friend the wind, drove him from her path, keeping him safe. He watched as she endured her momentary plummet and watched as she mustered her last wisp of strength to tilt her body away and thus allow her right wing to stabilize her flight to allow her a brief recourse. She was now below him and to his left, he slowed his flight to allow her to gain ground as his eyes left her and once again gazed to the south out at the vast blueness ahead of him.
They had crossed the ocean boundary now and were over water, over the place of no memory, the place of dreams. And it was his dream, his eternal dream that drove him, that made him restless, the answers were here, here somewhere in the blueness, here somewhere in the nothingness where the two forces of existences met. He left her completely and his heart soared.
This place was his love and in this love his strength surged and he flowed through the winds, the glorious winds in a euphoric motion, mimicking playfully the waves beneath him. He flew; he flew like he had never flown, in a glorious celebration of the mystical epiphany he now realized. He allowed the winds to take him up and down, he tilted his wings right and left taking it all in, the vast freedom that lay before him was his true love and in his heart he knew that it held the key to what it all meant, it was the key to the answer.
She had no more left. Her exhaustion was complete and she found it in her to continue no more. The winds had won their war, the moment was gone and she gave her will to them and with that she retracted her wings, relaxed her aching body and began her descent to her fate below. She was breathing in short, sharp rasps, her heart beating in a rapid pounding. In her descent she gazed ahead and tried to see what he saw, tried to see the dream of the blueness. She could never fathom what he saw, she could never love the things he loved, she herself loved only him, she loved the freedom in his eyes, and in his eyes she saw the answer that he saw in his beloved blueness. She knew he loved the wildness and she loved him when he was in the midst of his love, even if she could only share in that gloriousness for a while.
She hit the water with a crash, disoriented. She regained her equilibrium and weakly righted herself. The water was cold and foreboding and the waves drove her up and down in a series of sweeping thrusts. Frightened and weak, she glanced up and saw his figure, tiny in the sky above her and moving away, his image growing ever dimmer until he was a speck in the sky at the base of the horizon, a dancing speck that swayed with his beloved winds in a playful, joyous union.
In her longing a wave crashed into her body, throwing her sideways and as she had not the strength she lay floating on her side, her head weakly above the pounding saltiness of the water.
He swooped around to the north and remembered her and looked back to see where she was. She was nowhere in sight and so he stayed on course and he saw her there, there in the ocean, a mangled figure swaying with the ocean waves; a wing crooked and hanging limp. He dived down and gracefully flared his wings, landing smoothly in the water next to her.
Her head was halfway out of the water, her eyes looked at him. He paddled over to her and gazed down at her torn figure. He looked into her eyes questioningly as if to say, “Why? Why did you risk all this?”
Her dimming eyes gazed into his softly. And he knew he knew unfailingly and completely, it was her eyes, her soft gaze as she looked back at him as she lay dying in a place she did not belong and did not hold her heart. His whole life he had looked to the horizon, to the blueness and the answer was just out of reach but now he saw it was not so, it was never there and never will be. The answer was there in her eyes, those bottomless eyes that gave and gave and only wanted to be with him, to love him as he loved the sky and the mountains and the ocean and in always looking at the far-off and out to the blueness he had missed the answer which now lay beside him, loving him, always loving him.
And in that moment he knew love and he wanted to give, to give completely. He wanted to take back all the wasted moments, all the lone flights of contemplation and instead look into those eyes, those eyes that he was losing.
Questions came to him now in a rush to know. She sensed this and those eyes told him, “Geese mate for life, my love.” Her heart slowed and with that she died.
The blueness, the great blueness where the earth and the sky meet saw another setting of the sun and the blueness darkened, enveloping them with the coming night. He no longer looked out or beyond, his heart was dead as she was dead. He gave himself to her as she had given to him, giving to him completely this last gift. As the night moved down on them, he willed himself to give his life to her and as he did he died whispering, “I know the answer.”