Take Wing Tempo

We ran barefoot on pavement
before a girl tripped on a rock,
got third and fourth lips,
a new hairline.

We jumped from swings, aiming
for grass beyond the gravel path.
We flipped over the frame to float,
weightless girls who didn’t matter.

There’s a scar in the shape of Africa
on my right knee, a faceless dime
on my wrist. I expect flight,
but brace to land on my back.

How I could’ve loved you with that body,
heart that instructs a girl to climb fences
taller than her house, or fight a bully
who already shaves her knees.

What chords a pulse plucks. It plays
in thumbs pressed together. Some night
I’d like to leap from the headboard,
double up, wonder at the blood in our grins.


Copyright © 2021 by Ladan Osman. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 5, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I started this poem when I was a girl hurtling toward the grass, a dark star, older than ferns but younger than water. I returned to it seasons ago when fatigued from the terror, and from the vexation of reminding others that we matter. Because we are, already. Because some people think they are the sun, the obvious and the oblivion but are simply finite, and soon done.”
Ladan Osman