Experiment, The Physics Roof

by Sarah Crossland

for T.G.

In this version of the story the boy does not
learn to fly: a rapid cut of arms
through air—sarcoline stained
glass wings, the breath in his rib cage
caged as any wild animal. It is not my place to say
whether his eyes were closed or open, whether
what he thought of in those moments licked
by gravity was his father asleep
in an upholstered chair—Tony Soprano,
his drive past any number of suspension bridges
into the city, on the television—his mother
herding herself with worry
for this batch of begonias unsettled
in their lack of light. How many times—
lying down on the cool tar of the roof—
I felt the wavering bur-reed
of a boy’s finger going to unhook my bra,
before I stopped it. Amo le mie proprie
How many times my feet
bound in strap-upper sandals, the metal banister
freckled with this morning’s rain, the shingles
each a slanted prism-lake, I cupped my hand
to a friend’s shoulder in order to stand upright.
Before the mid-fourteenth century,
to slip meant to escape. As if in the loss
of our footing, the earth would open up
into elsewhere—grass, rather than a hard plane:
a sea the color of milk or vernix.
The pattern in which your body lands: tessellated
as houndstooth. This and unforgiving, forever.

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