Birds of Paradise
for each of us


existing everywhere in heavenly
brilliance, softened only by time
folded neatly back upon itself

you spread your wings of flame
licking upward, or bunched them
together like spun glass arches

you ancient one's, whose rainbow
edged wings we bleached to white
painting you, meek, mild, serious

in white robes, white halos, white
wings, eyes downcast, humble, meek,
hands crossed, pious with blessing

we could not abide your wildness,
your dancing around His throne,
shuddering your six vibrant wings

we could not attend your trumpets
blare, look upon the beauty of your
smile, or wrestle with you longer

so, we painted white over your yellow,
red, purple wings, proudly believing
this is the way you were--without color



--Violet Goulding (2002)