Those who have leaped before him know
that to carry out this job faithfully, the jumper
has to have been granted a good parachute.
He’s taught how to pack it: as if packing up love,
collecting the cords along the bones of its folds.
He’s armed with a reserve, a clear foresight for
the unforeseeable; damage and a leaden main
could take him straight down.
He’s been equipped with a helmet, and tucked
by his left shoulder lies a blade in case he must
cut himself free of twisted, failing lines—
he knows to do this before casting all trust
in the silken promise of a back-up bloom.
He’s learned to forego a shove out the airplane’s
open door, to inherit the air he’ll slice with
his body knife-like, determined to reach the source
of all gravitas, his Earth.
He’ll bear windborne witness to trees and fields growing
larger, more ochre, more green, quilted and ripe
as he comes hurtling, and know this accelerating
magnification holds the gift of perspective.
His training is sure—it’s told him that when
the half-moon chute has executed its job
and distance shrinks to full closure,
he must keep his heels together, buckle knees and
twist quick to accept the ground, to disperse the impact
over feet and hip and spine. It only looks easy.
He owns all this as instinct now.
He has the certainty of physics
and the blood-rush of the doing.
He’ll exit the dark womb of
the plane without guarantee
of finding welcome.
He’ll descend and maybe walk away.
Maybe not. Still, empty of instruction on
how to make the journey,
he will arrive all the same.