I stood in the woods and wept. I curled my arms around a slender tree and cried. There was nothing lonely about it. I bent into a crevice and wailed with a whisper. They took everything, I said. I wept for the year that had led me to a cliff and cut the cuffs off my ankles. They didn’t push, they just urged me to flight. The rest is a blur of sun and air. I fell into the lap of a thousand companions who only revealed their faces in the dark. The same thing happened night after night. They released me only to plunge. I found flight in moments, but mostly I just learned to fall. I rested my head against the tree, and said. May this year be gentler. I am tired. I wept into the woman I had become and the forest cleared me of my fear. I lay down under that slender tree and waited for the rain to drop. Cleanse me of this, I wanted to say. But the call was not for purification, but for release. I opened my feathered arms and nestled between earth and sky. I moved nothing. I just rested like a delicate branch on an old tree. A squirrel scurried over my elbows and shoulders. A cardinal landed on my ear. I watched the world move under me like an earthquake opening into a canyon. I kept waiting for the moment I would part. But I hovered in the middle of the forest without making a sound. My sorrow sank to my roots and I opened my branches into joy. I cannot tell you I have learned to fly. But perhaps, old friend, I am learning to rest. 


She left me, I said. I opened my palms into the wind and blew back. I had been tousled about all night. My hair was shaken from me like leaves in a rain storm. I emerged bald and shimmering. A star hooked to an eye. Sky dust all over my arms. My eyes rolling to my shoulders. There is nothing here I recognize. I opened the hidden door just under my knee, and they all trickled to my ankles. They didn’t carry bugles or weapons. You could almost call them cute. But I was not happy they had shown up again. Why not leave me, I whispered, why not leave me in peace? I wondered what they would ask next. I almost closed my ears and stuck my tongue in my eyes. But they rolled a banner down my leg and offered me a giant pineapple. Something sweet for the lady. Of course, of course. Could we sit together? Yes, that would be nice. We settled on an old rock. The pineapple was sweet and full of juice. I ate it slowly. After I was finished, we sat together quietly. No need for chatter. If it’s all the same to you, I’d rather not get up for awhile. They said, yes yes. And they pulled a blanket from the earth. Your head goes here, sister. And I waited for the sky to fall. It didn’t even quiver. We’ve got this, I heard them say. We’ve turned a flood into a river. 

~ Originally appeared in The Fiddlehead, Issue 286, Winter 2021.