skydiver freefall
Free Fall at Seventy
by Julene Tripp Weaver

On fire to sky dive, to find a new self—a birthday
appointment is made to dare to drop, to find wings
like a bird in flight, to fly free—
we sign our lives away, with a concession, to jump

into a one hundred-eighty-thousand terminal
velocity wind chamber, equivalent to a plane fourteen
thousand feet high. A guide teaches us hand signals,
instructs: legs straight, toes pointed, chin up, arms

and hands open, elbows bent. We suit up: ear plugs,
helmet, a full body suit, loose with handles on the back,
shoelaces double knotted. Round one: Dropzone altitudes
without oxygen—we enter Barotrauma—

I fall forward belly down, give way to float, my arms
tremble in the wind. Reminded, I bend my elbows, relax.
My legs hold sturdy, my muscles taunt, tense with exertion—
heated I sweat inside my suit. Such stamina

to float: I am doing this. The wind a cloud cushion
without scenic view. My body, a trembling leaf, this bird-glide
in space, a slow minute and a half. Back into gravity, hands rise
we high-five, witness courage, commitment to live.

This gift a reminder, despite my age I am strong—I held steady
suspended—and Yes, I Up my reservation—to fly in the next round,
craving grand adventure. Free fall through the door, a full body
twist, the guide elevates parallel holding my handles

he circles me up and up into the wind tunnel—three, then, Yes,
four times suspended, bird knowledge to lift into sky,
to glide, to dream, to dare. Grateful to this body’s
core strength that holds me resilient.

PAINTING: Skydiver free fall (watercolor print), available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I learned about iFly I added it to my bucket list, which I started after age sixty. Somehow I thought iFly had an age limit of seventy, so I was determined to “fly” before it was too late. It was a thrilling experience that really has no age limit, but there are health considerations and limitations determined by weight.

Weaver1 copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julene Tripp Weaver is a psychotherapist and writer in Seattle, Washington. Her third poetry collection, truth be bold—Serenading Life & Death in the Age of AIDS, was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Awards and won the Bisexual Book Award. Recent publications include: Oddball Magazine, HEAL, Autumn Sky Poetry, Poetry Super Highway, As it Ought To Be, Feels Blind; and in the anthology Poets Speaking to Poets: Echoes and Tributes. Find her at, on Twitter @trippweavepoet, and on Instagram @julenet.weaver