(the paratrooper)


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.