Posts Tagged ‘uncaged’

“Dark-Eyed Junco on the Bridge” by Jane Beal

I cross over a bridge with silver railings
into another world. As I am crossing, I notice you,
sitting on silver, watching me, and my heart
goes out to you with love, little angel –

as you fall from a great height,
then catch the wind with your wings
and soar into the twilight sky over
the endless waters of the San Francisco Bay.

Jane Beal
Uncaged (in progress)



“Lincoln’s Sparrow by the Napa River”

Muddy river, tall grass, Lincoln’s sparrow singing –
I pause at the sound, lean on the railing, and look:

I see you, tiny and beautiful,
but when you see me,
you stop singing.

Sing again, little one –
I am walking away, and you
are safe in the world!

Jane Beal
Uncaged (in progress)

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 8.17.56 AM

“After the Election” by Jane Beal

My brother was driving down the freeway
past hundreds of dark birds on a wire
singing for joy as the sun set:

he drove back, he stopped, and he
recorded what he was seeing and hearing,
and he sent the recording to me.

I felt that peace that comes when the Spirit
expands your heart:  and tears fell down my face
as the birds lifted into the air like angels

flying together toward heaven, free and beautiful
like women who have never been held captive,
whose wings imprint the sky.

Jane Beal
Uncaged (in progress)




by Jane Beal

“A Dream after the Death of Bill Armstrong” by Jane Beal

I dreamed I entered
the office of a dead man.
He was alive and sitting behind his desk.
I sat down across from him,
facing a shuttered window.

I could see through the blinds.

We heard a knock and thought
it might be someone at the door,
but the knock was on the next door:
I saw that screen-door open,
and the invisible one slip into the other room.

We still had Time.

He was talking, and I was listening
when I got up to adjust a light in a tall lamp
on the other side of the room:
it had a tiny bulb, and the light was flickering out,
and I couldn’t make it brighter by turning the switch twice.

He asked me to pray for him.

So I began, “Dear Lord,” but he said,
“No, not dear Lord,” so I began to sing:
I love thee, Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay
close by me forever and love me I pray,
bless all the dear children in thy tender care –

and bring us to heaven to live with thee there.

Now he was naked as the day he was born,
kneeling in child’s pose on a sloping staircase
that connected the floor to the bed,
for the desk had become a bed –
I looked out the windows again.

The blinds were open.

A huge stork, three times the normal size,
was perched on the telephone wires outside:
with a long, curved beak and coal-black wings,
a Star-bright, white breast, and a twin: a strange angel
that emerged to stand beside him.

I saw a miracle.

Those birds opened their wings and lifted into the air,
and they turned toward my right, toward the West,
where the ocean was rolling onto the sand,
and three black foals were running through the foam,
and the silhouette of a little girl

was chasing after them all with an ax.

Jane Beal
Uncaged (in progress)

Comment:  To read more about the extraordinary life of Bill Armstrong, see:



“Words” by Jane Beal

If a beautiful bird
suddenly came down from heaven,
sat on your shoulder,
and began to whisper words into your ear
that you could understand perfectly,
wouldn’t you be astonished?
wouldn’t you be amazed?

After five years of wordlessness, this week
little Saint Bridgette, my neighbor’s daughter,
spelled eleven words for her mother
to tell her exactly what she wanted:
never has the word “sand” been so sweet!
Never has “playdoh” brought so much joy! –
even if her first word was not “mama,”

she has spoken for the first time
with letters on a board, spelled out,
showing she has understood far more, all this time,
than we could have ever hoped or expected,
far more than any doctor could ever dream:
our prayer went up to God, and the voice
of a little bird came back down to us.

Praise Jesus
     for this miracle!

Jane Beal
Uncaged (in progress)

Tale of Three Languages
rendered by the Brothers Grimm


“Dreaming” by Jane Beal

In the summertime, I sleep
with my bedroom windows open.

Early this morning, the scrub jay
perched in the pomelo tree
just outside my screens
and began squawking – an avian alarm clock –
so that I was awakened from my dream.

My dream had been of yellow mustard flowers
and tall, thin sprigs of lavender blossoms –

of me, in Denver, sitting in an auditorium
watching an old friend walk across a stage,
graduating with his highest degree,
and turning back to wave at his professor
in a flirtatious way.

Later, I was walking into his university building,
which was also, somehow, mine –

and I could hear him, his voice, as he
was talking in a group of friends,
and I didn’t dare to come up to him,
where he was, to talk with him, or be with him,
but instead sat down in a nearby classroom, still listening.

I know his voice so well, and I knew it
in my dream better than any bird-call.

Jane Beal
from Uncaged (in progress)


Comment: When I woke, the feeling in my heart was sorrow — from listening, without the ability or freedom to speak — like Philomela. I knew my dream was prompted not by my old friend, but symbolized by him, in response new rules in a new friendship. I wish that being free was as simple as opening the little wire door to the birdcage, but birds often go back to cages when they’ve been raised in them. Only wild birds, that have been captured, fly away from cages as soon as the door is open — and never come back. God, please make my heart the wild bird it was first destined to be, free, and not trapped in an endless sense of loss.


postscript: Different meanings are attributed to different flowers. One source says mustard flowers stand for intelligence and pain. Another source says they stand for “fertility, protection, and mental awareness.” In the Bible, of course, a mustard seed growing into its largest and most beautiful state represents the kingdom of God. Supposedly, lavender can stand for “constancy,” but also for “distrust, suspicion, failure, and refusal.” It calms children — it calms anyone.

As a midwife, I regularly recommend lavender to mothers because of its calming effects and healing properties.