MARTIN WILLITTS JR.
I am earthbound, referenced by gravity: it holds me.
I cannot imagine going up to an observation tower to look
down without wanting to jump at the mere thought of it.
When I was a child, I feared heaven meant angels could fall
out of clouds — until I realized angels had wings
and could probably fly like butterflies. And most of my beliefs
I owned are no longer mine; I’ve given them away,
or recklessly lost them, or forgotten them in the rush of time.
There is a strength in forgiveness.
Whenever I have been inside a plane, it is difficult to trust
it will suspend over earth. I hold my breath, knowing I can’t
for five hours, hoping to levitate the plane safely forwards
and back, like a god using invisible guide wires. There is
strength in forgiving yourself, gravity holding you together.
The urge to jump stays in me on the flattest ground.
I know it is not real. I’ve fallen before, after falling asleep
in a high chair. Childhood trauma teaches gravity takes you
to places you never want to revisit. Sleep still frightens me.
Angels could lose their feathers during flight. What did I know.
Forgiveness takes work; a person must trust
it’ll never happen again. I fell off a roof while hammering
shingles and saw my breath knocked out of me,
rise like a warning sign. Forgiveness was that ladder
that moved and wasn’t where I had left it.
Someone said, visualize going up inside a tall building;
see yourself getting off on the one hundredth floor.
All I could see was the imaginary elevator doors opening
into nothingness when I stepped out, and neither faith
or angels or marionette strings or wings could hold me;
I fell below sightlines, below the bottom of the page,
through the center of the earth, and I’m still falling
into outer space. Forgiveness is like this.
Martin Willitts Jr is a poetry editor for Comstock Review. He won the 2014 Dylan Thomas International Poetry Award; and, Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, June). 2015, Editor’s Choice, Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Prize, 2018. He has 23 chapbooks including the winner of the Turtle Island Quarterly Editor’s Choice Award, “The Wire Fence Holding Back the World” (Flowstone Press, 2017), plus 14 full-length collections including “The Uncertain Lover” (Dos Madres Press, 2018), and “Home Coming Celebration” (FutureCycle Press, 2019).