Walking Not Flying

brook house 1

By Robin Steere Axworthy

I swing my legs over the side of the bed.
The floor is cool and smooth under foot.
I am surprised again that the navicular complains,
the cuneiforms ping and shrink; small pins fire
between my talus and tibia with each shift of weight.

Once upon a time, a younger I walked
along the trail that traced the stony ridge
behind my house, ten miles, bare feet
each step heel touch, arch settling
and springing back; metatarsal rocking
over the packed dirt, heel following
to rise again into air; the soft earth
speaking to me underfoot.

At 80 my father walked slowly,
one foot set down to rock over bony ridge
of hip, the other foot lifted and set down,
as if navigating some unseen calcite sea.
This man who once flew so fast across
the grass when my brother fell off the swing
that I couldn’t see him move,
now walks knee-bent, bow-legged,
his stony joints obstinate, unyielding.

In dreams I run so lightly I skim the grass,
barely bending blades, light of heart,
faster and faster. The wind of my going
blows my hair back from my face.
I laugh aloud and run into the sky,
into the air, into the blue sky,
as if I have always known how to spread
my arms to be held aloft like this,
flying over fields, trees, and ocean.

Waking, my bones complain, cracking
and knocking as I jostle them
slowly to the kitchen for coffee,
as I walk on stiff pins, not feet,

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