A Flutter of a Spark in the Winds

Adventure Risk Challenge brings high school students from underrepresented communities to NRS reserves for the adventure of their lives. In between wilderness outings to rock climb, backpack, and kayak, students receive up to six weeks of literacy and leadership training.

During the program, each student is asked to write a poem using an element in nature as a metaphor for him or herself. Anadi Zuniga, now a junior at Le Grand High School, participated in the Yosemite ARC program this summer and chose to compare herself to a calliope hummingbird.

A Flutter of a Spark in the Winds

By Anadi Zuniga

I am a Calliope hummingbird.

I am colorful, elusive, a wandering spirit

With my multi-colored wings I soar for answers about the world

Ideas only fuel my desire for knowledge

Just like a hummingbird thirsting for nectar

I move with a quick, but steady pace

Forever searching for the elixir that will sate my aspirations

As a tiny hummingbird, the smallest of my kind, the worlds seems so large

The winds are ominous, constantly shoving me down

Trees are skyscrapers, rocks are mountains

I am but one fluttering heartbeat in a sea of pounding hearts

As a hummingbird, I am weak

The only thing keeping me aloft

Are my strong, long wings

But even they, however, cannot withstand

Blow after blow after blow

Thrown at me by the winds

The strong winds clash against me,

As elusive as I am, they send strong negative vibes, thoughts

Discouragement, anxiety, a hatred for myself,

They choke me and toss me off course,

And prevent me from searching

They whisper these ugly things to me,

Tears flowing like rain, I feel powerless

The winds within keep me from migrating

They fear change; they want me to continue to circle

Just that spot

Creating and maintaining that horribly perfect storm

That I want to break free from

I flicker furiously to get by the tornado

But can only break down

My own self drags me, holds me by my tail

And says, “You need to do better, to be perfect.”

The other winds attempt to whisper, “Perfection isn’t all.”

But they get drowned out by

The seemingly endless tormenting hurricane.

Darting about is all that I really know,

My only sincere defense against the harsh winds.

And from the outside looking in, it seems that I am simply

Enjoying all the colors, smells and sounds of life

In a rapid and dizzying pace.

But in reality, only I know the reason for darting to and fro,

And it’s to keep the winds away, to distract myself from the pain of the winds with

The colors, smells and sounds of life,

To make every single wave of wind thrown at me

Seem a little bit softer.

So I distract myself, cloak myself with the colors

The effect only weighing my wings more

As I carry the burden of pretending

That everything’s fine

There’s one thing, though, that the winds cannot deteriorate,

And that is the flame of curiosity, buried deep inside

So the winds do not touch it

It’s the place where my true colors shine,

Changing, dazzling, burning,

It’s the perch where I can truly rest,

The flower where I can fill my belly with knowledge,

It is true nirvana.

The flame, the bright little star,

Is buried far too deep, hidden, unreachable for the winds,

And in some ways I can’t touch the little spark within, because of how far down it is,

Buried like long lost memories within a box of old heirlooms.

Reaching it requires so many bright hues,

To clear away the dark shades up above it.

Only slowly and with patience will the winds wither away,

To become only wisps, small words in the night.

One day, I wish to be able to free myself from this cage,

To stop the constant torrent of winds

From tossing, stretching, wounding me

And I wish for that one day, oh for simply one day

In which I can be myself again

Be that shining flame that everyone perceives me as,

As the one buried deep within myself,

Be the beautiful Calliope hummingbird that darts to and fro,

That experiences the world so gracefully, with such a carefree attitude,

I want to one day be the person that I am

Deep, deep inside, away from the winds, away from the troubles

So in the meanwhile,

I work my way out, put the key together piece by piece,

And work to make change the fruit of my hard labor.

Messiness is a guarantee; organizing emotions coated with a fine dust after years of storage

Is almost never easy

But I do it, one soft flutter at a time