As if trying to learn

by imitation, you glance

again at the ethereal

whiteness of gulls drifting

so close to sun you swear

you can see right through them,

and send it heavenward.

The couple walking a dog

past the lot you use as a runway

settle their speech and look

toward the thermal you are trying for

in a blind run.

Your modified wings sizzle

and stretch like a leathery reptile's;

when wind comes under them

with water's strength, they rise

light as molted skin.

But, often, immune to urgings,

you see it whipstall - the back

humped-up, scaling too straight,

too fast, now standing

poised on a point

of nothing you understand,

then falling in a spiral

of bent circles, frantic

to touch ground.

Retracing your steps,

you resolve to find

your connection between earth

and sky, resist the electric company's

wire impediments, avoid branches.

Wrestling with downdrafts

and a tail too short for stability,

success comes fluttering

into a corner of open sky.

Moved to your toes

by new velocities,

even on stormy days

you will fly to get it again.

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