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Rated: E · Poetry · Emotional · #2213929
A slightly fantasized retelling of an actual event, in memory of my grandfather.
Earning My Wings

My grandfather's home was the sky
His heart aloft from the ground
An engineer whose mind helped
Launch our first shuttle to space

I remember fresh-lacquered wings drying
On sawhorses, floating eye-level in his garage
But a flutter in his heart stole their air
His license flown away, never to return

Unhappy photos of him, fettered to the ground
I grew up wishing he could feel the wind again
Soon after leaving the nest, my lessons began
But the ground took him, too soon

The morning I earned my wings
I alit from my perch so early
Wing'ed faeries still flit about
Setting diamonds to the leaves

A stern stranger with clipboard sat right seat
Ready to catch any falling mistakes
Checklists and run-ups--then "Clear!"
Turbulent questions as we taxied

Cessna's were not designed for the ground
An empty soda can rattling on breezy asphalt
But as the Earth dropped beneath its wheels
An aluminum bird returned home

Climbing the sky brought my grandfather's eyes
Smoothed my sputtering nerves
The clipboard man slipped behind a cloud
My purpose became clear blue sky

I'm a bird, climbing, rolling, stalling, diving ...
Until the airport reminded me of rented wings
Runways below shaped like a crooked cross
The shorter piece tree-hemmed and disused

I faltered when clipboard pulled a lever
My engine mock-failing before approach
Too far to glide to the longer runway
The shorter pitted asphalt too close below

My confidence fell, mind stalling in midair
Then ... I imagined a hand touch my shoulder
I heard "Whoa!" from the right seat
The plane banked, left wing pointed at the ground

Right pedal down, flying sideways
We side-slipped straight down,
Righting, flaring, touching like a feather
Before my hands were my own again

I felt my grandfather's proud grin
In place of clipboard's shocked stare
I taxied back to undeserved praise
Happy he got his last flight
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