And they fall to earth in Northern Wisconsin –
Pembine, Antigo, Lakewood – I
know how they feel, wings coated with ice, heavy,
the loons can’t lift them one more
realizing it is out of their hands,
or rather, out of their wings,
the only thing to do is
pick a spot on the frozen earth, plan
a landing that will hurt the least,
one that might receive their bodies like a pop fly caught at center,
soft, light, pulled into someone’s chest
and maybe they can wingwalk away.
They were not meant to walk, just swim, or fly.
In ululating loon language, or so I imagine,
they pray for a landing close to water,
one with enough runway, a quarter mile of lake,
so they can get up enough speed to return to the sky, wings freed,
blue sky above
steel water below
able to see, again,
this corrugated map
of the lap of the world.
They’ll rise above it.
But until then
I hold my wings out
as straight as I am able, laden
with 30 years of ice,
heavy as sleeping children.
I watch the ground
rising up to meet me,
I feel the hurt before I hit,
I won’t be caught,
I won’t be pulled soft
into the right fielder’s chest
but I will find enough runway
to get back into the sky some day,
wings catching the edges of clouds,
those lakes inchoate,
giving me just enough friction