The Woman Who Thought She Could Fly

She always believed that she could fly.
One day she ran and ran and reached the edge
and went on running. She was lucky,
I was standing beneath the precipice
waiting to catch her. One day, I thought,
no-one will be there. Who else would bother?
Only me, with my long past bearing love.

She became obsessed with the idea of flying.
“Let it be an idea,” I said, “that’s all it is.”
She turned and spat on me and shouted loud and angry,
“You don’t know, you are earthbound, I can fly!”
It became very tiring, the watching and the waiting,
never knowing when she was going to take off,
when, day or night I would have to be ready.

I walked beneath heather clad mountains in Wales
and under snow capped louring cliffs in Scotland.
She wouldn’t even use wings or any device,
she just flapped her arms, faster and faster
and ran on her legs, harder and harder, till I thought
it was all a metaphor for something missing,
or perhaps something I’d missed without knowing.

I started wooing her with wine and long stemmed roses,
she accepted my gifts but left them standing in rows
till the flowers withered and I started drinking the wine,
while she sought out ever more vertiginous cliff tops
and I rushed and hurried to be there to catch her.
Nothing I said would even give her pause, or thwart
her self inflicted image of taking to the air.

The last time, when she crashed, I’d drunk too much of the wine,
I got there too late, hurrying across the empty scrubland
just in time to see her take off with a great shout of glory
from a cliff higher than any I’d seen her attempt.
I wasn’t there in time to catch her, perhaps I slowed down.
Perhaps I simply thought, enough was enough.


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