Self-Portrait as Aerialist
I’ve always been afraid to fall—the rough embrace of the net, the crowd’s shocked gasp, my mother’s disapproval. She loves me best when I can fly, when I trust the bar, the leap, the air and all my training. From far away, every catch, release and tumble looks as effortless as breath. Up close, we grunt and cry, hands sweat and slip, wires creak and nearly tangle. I’d rather be the girl the magician disappears, the lovely target spinning for the knives, assistant who holds the hoops the cats jump through—anything to avoid the long climb and quick launch into space where only light will catch me every time. Every landing comes as a relief, the platform trembling beneath my feet, ache in my chest easing. If I crash into the net I have to wave and smile, pretend it doesn’t hurt to fall so far.
Copyright © 2014 Carrie Shipers. Originally published in Poet Lore, Volume 109, Number 1/2. Used with permission of the author.