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Attention, and Fletches

I borrowed some words from anthropologist, philosopher, science writer and poet Loren Eiseley and structured them into a fletch, and the result is at the top of this post.

2 months ago

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Attention, and Fletches

words by Loren Eiseley; photos are my own

I spent two hours today just watching a flock of up to forty crows cavorting in an exercise of what was clearly pure play, soaring, diving, tilting, playing wing tag, among the dozen or so towers I can see from my terrace in the sky.

They rode the currents of air between the buildings, and swooped down and around and just up and over the top of the mostly-glass-paned towers, clearly aware of what windows are. They traveled back and forth mostly in groups of two to eight, chasing each other and then getting chased in return, touching wings and then zooming away. Clearly showing off. The avian equivalent, perhaps, of a crew of kids in a skateboard park.

One of them took great delight in dropping a pebble while flying in midair, and then plummeting down at seemingly suicidal speed, catching the pebble in its beak, and then soaring back up, displaying it triumphantly to the world. Over and over. Once, it even tossed the pebble up and back over its head and did a reverse somersault leading into the dive.

Another, seemingly intrigued by the updrafts around the building opposite, took delight in repeatedly flying laterally around the building’s top floor and then stopping absolutely still in mid-flight, flapping its wings laterally to do a mid-air U-turn, and then flying back around the other way.

Four of them flew in a formation intersecting each other like the tresses in braided hair, curving away and then back to rejoin the formation in a different alignment, as they soared, dove and swept around six different towers in succession, and landed in a row on my rooftop.

A two-hour long aerial ballet. I am so grateful for my lot in life. But oh, to be a bird.

As I watched, I thought about and invented a new form of composition — conversation, thread, story, or poem — that I call a fletch, from the ancient word meaning taking to flight. Hence “fledgling”, “flow”, “fly” and “fletcher” (a maker of arrows).

I designed it for a number of reasons:

As a result, a fletch has quite a few rules. These rules challenge us to move away from our conventional ways of thinking and writing, but they’re not arbitrary. Here are the rules:

I’ve been playing with these constraints since today’s avian ballet performance, and plan to publish some ‘conversations with myself’, some ‘back-and-forth’ dialogues I’ve had with others, and some poetry I’ve been working on, using this form and these rules. It’s not easy, but then neither are sonnets.

In the meantime, I borrowed some words from anthropologist, philosopher, science writer and poet Loren Eiseley and structured them into a fletch, and the result is at the top of this post.


Finding the Sweet Spot: the natural entrepreneur's guide to responsible, sustainable, joyful work

"Now what am I going to do?" is a question many people ask—and leave unanswered—at critical potential turning points in their careers. Perhaps you’re a new graduate, but instead of lining up for a boring entry-level job at a big corporation, you wish you could start your own sustainable and responsible business

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Dave Pollard

Published 2 months ago