He Takes Flight

on approach into London England
He Takes Flight

The invitations mount in a pile on the table. One follows him 
around his house as gentle sighs, exhaling 
the burden of his duties, the things he was expected to do 
every day, the littlest of things you wouldn’t think were so heavy, 
like making the bed or brushing his teeth, 
day after day, ceaselessly. 

Another arrives like a warning whistle 
as he sits at his desk, his screen a streetlight 
illuminating the tracks ahead, his day a cargo train, 
car after black car, stretching endlessly 
into the wild prairie with its hungry harvest, his gut burning 
like a black coal, and the steam that keeps him chugging 
can’t move up and out his pipes.  

The last summons lands at his feet in a crumpled ball, 
after his partner wonders aloud what they might enjoy for dinner, and he yells 
back at her, not just testy, but mean and spiteful. Even this 
tiniest and inconsequential of decisions feels like a billboard shouting. 
He stares down at the paper, gazes up to her and collapses, 
not physically into her arms but right there before her, he falls 
into pieces, broken mirror littering the floor. 

There, 
his heart finally stills 
from the chase of all those invitations, 
and the soft round world around him catches up. 
It’s not that he’s given in or given up. It’s not like that. 
It’s more like he put the barbell back into its rack along the wall 
so life doesn’t hit him straight on, like he’s open enough 
so that life moves through him. 

He discovers that the world did not stop when he let go 
of his load. The sun still shines gold in the sky and 
clouds cast shadows on the sidewalk. He takes flight, 
an eagle gliding on thermals high above the patchwork of earth, 
unencumbered by life’s demands, no weights to carry. 
For the moment, free. 
And that is enough. 

This poem is also part of a collection I put together called All the Shapes of Joy.

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