The downside to rising like this:
How the emphasis shifts from your legs.
They cycle the air at the outset,
then slacken, and finally trail

the torso’s relentless flexing.
Disuse for a month or two withers
them into mosquito whiskers,
and then, when it’s time to descend to

your fellow men and walk beside them,
you land and buckle in a grand
absurd kerfluffle, the satin tent

of wings collapsing over you,
real earth in the mouth
where ethereal used to whisper.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 31 Number 2, on page 30
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