archives, poetry

The Lady and the Bird. {poetry}


When was the last time you felt like you could fly? When did you last feel the weightless fizz of life’s force deep in your belly and why did you clip your own wings?

Why do we cut ourselves off at the knees when we are just gaining momentum?

These are the questions that flit around me like little moths.

We are all better versions of ourselves when we do the things we love, and when we are better versions of ourselves, we are more lovable. Life has a way of gobbling up our time and resources so that we forget all about the things that spark the flame within.

We each carry within us a little light. Throughout our lives, that light will either blaze or barely flicker. It is our work to find the thing that keeps the fire burning. What is it that makes you flare with beauty?

For me, it is running, writing and painting, and so I do these things. I carve out time for them and I give to them, they in turn give back to me. Each morning at 5 am, I leave the warmth of my bed and my husband’s body and slip into the morning. When the light changes, my body is like warm butter, and I spread it with an easy grace across the pavement.

Running is something I have learnt to love, and I feel it is a gift to the world because I am nicer person when I do it. I am alive and awake in my bones.

On my days off, I make time for painting. Truthfully, I am more dedicated than talented. Once the work is made, the usual self-doubt starts tugging at my corners. This is a boring story that I am trying to rewrite, but regardless of the result, for a brief moment, in the making there is a flicker of light.

I am connected to the thing Dylan Thomas refers to as the “force that through the green fuse drives the flower” or what other people call God. I have to trust that there is a place for my writing and my art. I have to trust that the things I am compelled to do are the very things that are fated within me. I never again want the more brutal lessons of life to be the ones that shape me.

I want to rise with joy, answer the call of my spirit, and if that’s a few paintings and poems that the world may not want or need, then I still have to make them. This has been the hardest lesson for me. To keep making in the blaring gaze of my own questioning heart.

Life will mute our flame, but life can also rekindle it. It is up to us to seek out the places where we shine, even when we have been brought to our knees.

When do you feel most alive? Go and do that thing and let the world work out what will come next. Never let the story of your life become your cage, and please, never forget that once you could fly.


There was a lady who could not fly
One day she bought a bird
that could
She clipped its wings
so that it could not fly away
She loved that bird
you understand
She called it Velvet
Every day she fed the bird
and kissed the bird
as though that were enough
The lady and the bird
in a cage, in a house
neither of them could fly
The lady painted her lips
fuchsia every day
She made little kissing noises
to the bird in the cage
as though that were enough
She loved that bird
you understand
The lady had her wings clipped too
by a heartless world
that did not take the time
to understand her dreams
or the way regret had made her heart-sore
She wore the drag of her life
like divers’ weights
Relentless gravity
she hefted her way through
and after a while
she barely noticed
the house with the cage
the single wine glass,
unwashed, fuchsia-smeared
the bird that did not sing anymore
the lady who barely noticed
neither of them
living the life they were destined for
neither of them
living the life they were fated to
and after a while
neither the lady or the bird
even remembered that once
they could fly.


Bell Harding is a Rumi-loving painter, late bloomer, and poet from Australia. Her home is a vintage caravan called Lou Lou, which likes to roam but is currently stationed in Fremantle, Western Australia, while she tries her hand at civilian life. Bell has a degree in fine art, and loves to paint barefoot in the dirt. She seeks beauty, wisdom and adventure in the landscape, and looks for the small poetry in daily life. In her expanded moments, Bell loves to paint, cook plant-based food, and write pretty poems with sharp little teeth. You could contact her via Instagram.


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