Published on Academy of American Poets (


Still dark, my baby girl leaps out
the window to greet the rising sun.
I stand below ready to catch her,
but every time she takes off
without fail, her laughter calling
to the orioles, calling
to my shame that had I the choice,
I would have never taught her to fly.

Somewhere there is a man with a gun
who will take pleasure in seeing her
skin against the pure blue sky— 
and shooting her down.
My own mother did not flinch
when I first raised my arms
and lifted my feet off the ground,
above her head.
She only said you better hope
bulletproof skin comes with that
gift. Years later I found out it did.


Copyright © 2017 by Gary Jackson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 3, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I’ve been dipping more often into this world populated by superhumans and heroes I created on the side. This is one of those poems in the voice of one of that world’s heroes. It originally sprung from a simple thought: if I had a daughter who could fly, how wondrous it would be! How fearful would I become?”
—Gary Jackson


Gary Jackson

Gary Jackson is the author of Missing You, Metropolis (Graywolf Press, 2010), which was selected by Yusef Komunyakaa as winner of the 2009 Cave Canem Poetry Prize.

Date Published: 2017-11-03

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