Flights Beyond the Shadows

The-She-Tree, collage/montage, 2023
Flights of Angels, collage/montage, 2023


How to make art or poetry in these times? How to make images of the mystical or spiritual presences that whisper for inclusion? As a poet, a photographer and a collagist, I have been feeling this last year that my Cassandra hair is on fire. These images are visions, drawing their “bodies” into a relation with place.  At once frightening and prayerful, they suggest ways to make it through the darks, through their tunnels and through the shadows in an effort to live, yet and still. 

In The-She-Tree a woman and the natural world are merging, disappearing into one another in order to survive. Seeing from the outside the woman is becoming the bark of the growing and/or dying tree, the leaves, the light points and the fires … and also the shadows. Seeing from the inside the merging becomes a way to love what grows, the tree as herself rather than as separate. This merging is one of my visions for how the natural world and we might maybe survive. The tree is us. The tree is her. She is becoming “it.” It is becoming her only place. No more separation can be possible. If only…if only….  

The title Flights of Angels of the second image comes from words spoken by Horatio at the end of Shakespeare’s Hamlet paying tribute to his dying friend: “May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.” Is this place of rest death for the body? or is it transformation?  In my image, yes, it is a place for the body, for many bodies in fact, merging between life and death.  It is, as well, a place for an individual traveler and for the earth herself, in transition. The habitat is changing and she, we, are feeling our way through it. (Blindly? Or all-seeing?) That arched tunnel between worlds is being reconfigured by change, by death, by heat, by cold, by light … by the flights of angels, by the wings that surround her, that both frighten and bless. She, we, are being moved into relation with such places of rest. (Trapped or freed?)  Wings of the non-human merge with and surround her body as she enters. Perhaps she, we, will exit. She is surrounded by the insects as an ambiguous metaphor for the angelic realm as well as for the realm of potential threat … Is she becoming them? Is she blinded by the dark of this place or is she blindfolded to endure it, or just blinded by the light ahead?  We live with such unanswerable? Imponderable? questions now.  And now…
And now…  

May we make it through these days with a little grace and a recognition that as the poet Lisel Mueller wrote in “The Blind Leading the Blind:”

Something with wings went crazy against my chest once.
There are two of us here. Touch me.

About the Author

MARGO BERDESHEVSKY was born in New York city and often lives and writes in Paris. Her latest poetry collection is “Kneel Said the Night” (a hybrid book in half-notes) from Sundress Publications. “It is Still Beautiful to Hear the Heart Beat” is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry.  Her “Before the Drought” from Glass Lyre Press was a finalist for the National Poetry Series. Berdeshevsky is author as well of “Between Soul & Stone” and “But a Passage in Wilderness” (Sheep Meadow Press). Her book of illustrated stories Beautiful Soon Enough received the first Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Award for Fiction Collective Two (University of Alabama Press).  She is the recipient of the 2022 Grand Prize for Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award.  Her other honors include the Robert H. Winner Award from the Poetry Society of America. Her work appears in literary venues around the world.  For more information, kindly go to her website at

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