I was on the crest of a hill, eye-level with the tops of hemlocks,
raised my arms in the perfect dihedral,
rounded my shoulders exactly right,
curved my hands into the primaries of a rough-legged hawk.
I could have done it, that afternoon,
with the sun scattering the light into improbable blue.
I felt a vibration, a trembling up my arms.
I saw my fingers pinnate,
felt the feathers growing, prickling through my skin.
Perhaps I could have risen above the trees,
disappeared into that stunning sky–
and yet, some solid thing,
some reservation of gravity,
kept me on the ground.

Small children know:
with homemade wings in place they leap
from kitchen chairs,
flutter above the rooftops,
carry home the smiling sun, yellow moon,
the sharp pointed stars.

published in Connecticut River Review, July/August 2004


2 comments on “WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO FLY?

  1. Emily Rieffel says:

    Love the word “dihedral” and the jargon of flight. Do you know the Guy Clark song “The Cape”?

  2. John Stec says:

    How fine it is to see an old friend, soaring so high and fine, whisking overhead with eyes as sharp as when we were younger and learning to fly.

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