Planning for the flight, the balls of my feet dig into the floor, which isn’t a floor,but the slope of the tube of the plane
rocking forward in the air, face down, the chute
unbuckled. All I want is to fly. No down for
my feather only felt in my pillows,
soft cushion won’t await in
the needle thick swarm of
the pine. The buzzing
in the ear, flapping
wildly, my arms
feel the weight
of my body
Click of the buckle, straps tight around the shoulders, hugging arm pits, looped down around my waist, up under legs, leaving legs and torso disconnected. Face down in the air, punched by the atmosphere feels like a wake-up call. Cheeks exploding in red, daisy bellis under the skin, prune, water, repeat. Trees touch each other, boxing with their branches, unable to leave earth. Stopped slapping and they look up, open their arms.
Chute unbuckled, unable to hear the click
this time around. Falling, my stomach
is left above me, tangled in the treetops,
Flying up, falling down, tipping my to on the edge
of the plane with the door spread open,
free with no chute strapped to my back.
Clouds don't look the same when you're in the middle,
a fog in bubbles. Clouds are a farce
for people to dream of. No sheep in the sky
with their fluff to catch me as I drop,
face down towards the trees,
spikes in the ground, taking my arm
off at the root of my body and flying it
for the flag of the forest.
Nose runs up my face and I fall
to the ground, my feet not below me.
The chute meant to catch me, I unbuckle
for the thought of freedom.
Rope burn on the straps,
I know it won't close again,
but I try anyway, just so I can panic
with my mouth open wide.
I expect bugs stuck in teeth and leaves
slapping the tips of my ears,
but all I hear is the crack of my finger
and it leaves my body, the torpedo.
Water leaking from my eyes, the salt
gumming in my hair.
Waves of the air from the plane
hit my arms in such an insensitive way.
My fingers grasp for cloth when the chute flies away,
where we'll both die alone, ripping to pieces the way
skin slips from bone with a paring knife
The trees clap their branches for me twisting,
somersaulting, laughing 'till I cry. Welcoming
leaves turn greedy and they grab for my legs
and they win, dangling them above me
to show me how good they've done.
Snap of the three finger
buckle hugs me, knowing
where I'll land. Toes tap
from the edge of the tube,
teasing my eyes. Wind slaps
me on the back for a job well done.
The trees poke from the edge
of the rocks, leaving bald patches
on the grey of the tip
of the ledge tripped out
and tortured by the waves
Flight came from the assignment of imitating one of the poems that our Discovery poet had written. Suzanne Lummis creates voice that I couldn't seem to imitate as much as I wanted to, because when I did, it sounded almost fake, but spewing this poem, it was the closest imitation I could do to some of her more stream-of-consciousness poems, that still looked outward.
As you can you see, I played a lot with form and choosing the form for the original draft came easy. The first line starts out slower, ambivalent whether the narrator wants this to happen, then the second line, she starts falling, and the third line, falls even faster. Since I put the content into the form afterwards, I saw the sentences as down-shifting, using commas and caesuras to quicken the pace of the fall. I also noticed that once the poem starts to really narrow, the images and the possibility of future feeling in the body get a little muddled, and I liked that because it gave the poem this sense of a funnel where everything is sucked down into it, but when it gets closer to the bottom, whatever is getting funneled tends to push and shove their way through so it's not the stream that you would expect.
Revision 1, like all of the others, I focused on packing as much image and feeling into it as I could. The sound of the click of the buckle, already feeling disconnected from the limbs, the firework cheeks, with the red flower blooming underneath, but still with that Haryette Mullen voice and wordplay of the skin, prune, water, repeat. The form ended up being a paragraph for the fall, and then when she hit the trees, the stomach dangling in the treetops. When it was all paragraph, I thought the last couple of words didn't stand out as much as they should have for the end to this poem, "not how they're supposed to." Really, your stomach isn't supposed to be tangled in the treetops at all, but those words didn't impart that strong of an image and I wanted the form to almost make up for that.
The only part I was really proud of in revision 2 was the ending of the arm as a flag of the forest. I thought the flying up, falling down was a little overused, and then all the language afterwards was pretty generic, until that image. The way my lines are laid out isn't as interesting as I would have wanted either, they are clear-cut, easy reading, whereas Revision 3 gives the images of the nose running as she falls, and then the rope burns as she tries to buckle herself back in.
I think Revision 4 is my favorite of all of the Flight drafts because of the musicality of it. With the skin slipping away from the bone with the paring knife, I think it much prettier and softer than arm flown as a flag in the forest and it gives the reader the ability to be okay with this poem of self-destructive nature.
Again in Revision 5, I use the alliteration of t's because they have that sound in them that is used so often, like the ticking of a clock, or the clicking of the buckle.