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Alpendohle are birds, called Alpine Choughs in English. They are members of the crow family which live high up in European and Asian mountains, and are truly joyous creatures. Seeing them do aerobatics for fun helped my recovery from PTSD - and taught me an important lesson - sometimes, you just have to let go.

Letting Go – Alpendohle

Screen_shot_2017-12-05_at_08.50.24by Patrick Howse08 Jul 2013

I stand on tortured twisted rocks
Two and a quarter miles above
The surface of the sea they were born in.

A cloud of ice crystals blasts my burning face.
I’m alone but for a happy flock of Alpine choughs;
Black as treacle, glossy as liquorice

They wheel and loop through the thin air,
Swirling round my head to make me dizzy,
Plunging from cliffs to make my heart skip.

But one of them stands with me
Yellow beak pointing defiantly into the Firn,
The wind that begs and bullies him to fly.

He fights the upward impulse stubbornly,
Perching on the edge of the world,
An arm’s length away from me,

He walks to stay still, always blown backwards
Until finally he relents, and releases himself;
Just by stretching out his wings

He’s pulled heavenwards instantly,
Riding every fluke, soaring in wildness,
Letting go, he embraces his thrilling element.