But I am weight, I say, I am the essence of weight.
It has taken these eighteen years to transform my body.
I will teach you to float, he says.
The wings began before birth, I tell him.
They brushed the walls of my mother’s womb, made her ill,
made her curse my body. When I was born,
they gathered at the glass, called me ugly, an eagle’s egret.
My mother was ashamed.
I will make you float, he says.
Form a sac, the doctors told them. Make it of leather and silver.
Leather shrinks in every rain; silver has weight, has value.
When it rained, they locked me out.
I felt the leather grip me and my flesh shrink.
In the rain my skin began to shine, like silver.
It took a very long time for the shrinking, even longer for the silver.
But with each year, the skin shone stronger, like armor.
You are becoming beautiful, they said. You can be
a sculpture adorning a parlor, a goddess on a marble statue in a fountain.
I say you can float! claims the ancient one.
Now they come to worship at my feet, I tell him. They say I am perfect.
Then why have they sent you to me?
For the children.
Such beauty should reproduce itself, my father says.
And the wealth, says my mother. Such creatures of marble and silver
will bring a fine price.
Doctors were called.
She is beautiful, they said, but the condition is incurable.
There will be no children.
But do you wish to be cured? demands the ancient one.
I wish…to please, I say.
Then envision the immensity of Father Sky, the way the lily glows
just before it dies. Feel the flesh pulled by the tides, the salt upon the skin.
Lick it as a creature licks the birth film from its newborn.
I do as I am told. I float.
The weight flows from me and I rise to the ceiling of the cave.
I have cured you! exults the ancient one.
But out of the entrance to the cave, the first blade of morning sun
is reaching, crossing the sharp edges of the ancient hole.
All the bones in my body stretch toward it. I begin to move.
You cannot fly, you know! he calls. The wings are gone,
you can only float!
But my body does not pause. It drifts like a gull over the waves, a hawk
above the mountains.
STOP! cries the ancient one.
But it does not stop.
When I reach the shaft of sun, my flesh leans into its warmth.
You will fall! the ancient one shouts.
The arc of sun is now vibrant about me, like fingers on my skin. I move
more swiftly, out through the mouth of the cave. I see the layers of cloud
and sky shifting, each in the embrace of the other, I see that they are never
still. I stretch my neck and the wind catches my breasts, lifts me –
Patricia Brooks has published two novels from Dell, and is seeking a publisher for her novel And Whose Little Girl Are You? Her poetry has appeared in a variety of literary journals, including The Rockhurst Review, Raging Dove, Out of Line, and upcoming in the pdxx Collective.