The Taste of Flight

Arriel Vinson

We called the ratchet chick

around the corner a bird

as if we ain’t wanna be free as her,

soar through our ghetto without watching

our feathers land on brown-green grass.

She knew how to make them fists fly,

slathered herself in Vaseline, an oil slick,

could knead a nose with her knuckles,

then get a girl to her knees in seconds.

And we watched. And we wondered how many times

we had to swing our arms, semi-circles in the air,

for our brown-skinned scapulas to part.

We wondered what it felt like up there.

If the wind brushed against her skin

like a hand or gushed like water,

if she ever got tired of the sky

like we got tired of the land.

Only a bird like her could be fly enough

to rock gold hoops and rock a man to sleep

with her warmth, shield him with her wings.

Make every man crane his body with want

as she flies by. We called her a bird like we ain’t

inhale the air she pierced to hold it

in our mouths, hoping the taste of flight

was just as freeing as the act. We called her a bird like

we ain’t wanna be the warm blood flowing through

a girl so capable of flying away from that place.


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