How to Fly
by Lisa Alletson

Love the cliff face first.

Measure and weigh
the hands that shackle your ankles
holding you back.

Test the troposphere
with a snowdrop
sprung from your glow.

Leave out a bowl
of black holes
to consume gravity.

Inhale the sweetness
of the wet blade of grass
between you and freedom.

Build a pair of wings
out of tendons and memories
with your naked fingers.

The wings will stick
to your body at first —
low and frightened.

Towel them down
with your childhood blanket
to soak up burdens.

Don’t forget
to take your children —
past and future.

(They will know if you leave without them.)

Don’t forget your strength.
Never forget your strength.

Let go.

IMAGE: Les Oiseaux (The Birds), silkscreen by Henri Matisse (1947).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lisa Alletson writes poetry using stark imagery inspired by the political, geographic, and cultural features from her three childhood continents. Born in South Africa’s Cape and raised during apartheid, Alletson’s writing often includes elements of water and darkness in her exploration of grief, mental health, inequality, special needs parenting, and relationships. Her writing has been published in the Globe and Mail, the Bangalore Review, Dreamers, Blank Spaces, Fresh Voices, and Dodging the Rain. Her poems “A Passing Oryx” and “Spectrum” were selected by the League of Canadian Poets as Poem-of-the-Day for Poetry Pause. She writes daily on Twitter at @lotustongue.