February 15, 2022

Wings, By Jordan Hirsch

  

Wings of spun sugar,

wrapped up in paper:

a gift from the god

who lived down the river.

 

His increasing favor

had grown even greater,

intentions made known

with sprawling curled letters:

 

“It’s true, you are sweeter

than all other creatures.

My bird, won’t you sail

through my sky on these feathers?

 

But when there is thunder

or the sky’s clouded over,

go home right away

where you’ll be warm and safer.”

 

So when skies were clear,

I’d don crystal feathers,

eyes on the horizon

for clouds taking over.

 

I’d soar, and I’d hover

over meadows of clover

leaves of forest below

like waves of the water.

 

But when I’d stray farther

than I had ever,

I’d hurry back home

as blue skies turned grayer.

 

It never did matter

just how nice the weather

was before leaving;

it always turned sour.

 

One day I discovered

with my candy feathers,

a place more beautiful

than my mind could muster.

 

Landing with a bluster,

I entered the cavern

and there in the dark found

the nest of some creature.

 

Off over my shoulder

I heard distant thunder,

but there was plenty of time

to fly home, I figured.

 

Her wings were of ochre;

they spread from her shoulders.

She guarded her eggs

with the strength of a mother.

 

Her eyes burned with fervor

at my wings made of sugar,

and I saw in her gaze

questions I couldn’t answer.

 

The thunder boomed closer,

calling for my departure,

so I took to the sky

as the wind became quicker.

 

I flew with on vigor

and just a few prayers

to bring me home safely

as the storm quickly gathered.

 

But soon came the downpour,

and I landed in terror

as my wings began melting

into puddles of sugar.

 

I walked home in slippers

then my cheeks grew redder

embarrassed to find

in my cabin, a visitor.

 

“You can’t fly in this weather--

did you not remember?”

His words rang out harshly

as his eyes shaded darker.

 

“I’ll make you a new pair,”

he said through his temper.

“But you have to stay grounded

during inclement weather.”

 

So I smiled sweeter

than any smile prior,

and I promised obedience

while crossing my fingers.

 

Then alone by the fire,

my soul burned with anger,

for he is the god

who sends rain on the farmers.

 

Six rainy days later,

new wings wrapped in paper

arrived at my door,

fragile feathers of sugar.

 

Veiled gifts from a lover--

no, gaslighting imprisoner.

Sugar wings are a cage,

just a gold-gilded tether.

 

I waited till after

his eyes seemed to wander

And then I flew off in the sun

to revisit the creature.

 

She bid me come closer

letting me study her:

grown her eggs and her wings

both apart from another.

 

Maybe that was the answer

to my gold-gilded tether.

Cut it myself--

then it started to thunder.

 

Lifting up in the air,

candy wings beating faster,

I now knew what to do

all thanks to my teacher.

 

Feet landing on clover

it started to downpour,

and I doffed candy wings

throwing them in the river.

 

Reaching for my interior,

I felt waiting, a flutter

--something bold and alive

that’d been with me forever.

 

I gasped out in labor,

but the pain was an anchor

as they sprout from my back--

something harder than sugar.

 

They were longer and stronger

than any god’s favor.

The wings of my flesh

shook and flung off the water.

 

With my own wings unhindered,

my feet left the clover

lifting me in the air

without even a stutter.

 

That god up the river

called me his bird, only sweeter.

What he didn’t realize

is I’m some other creature.

 

I have grown my own savior

from deep in my shoulders.

Now I fly untethered

in sun or in rain.



Jordan Hirsch writes speculative fiction and poetry in Saint Paul, MN, where she lives with her husband. Her work has appeared with Apparition Literary Magazine, Octavos, and other venues. Find her on Twitter: @jordanrhirsch.

Cover Design: Amanda Bergloff 

4 comments:

Lynden Wade said...

Ooh, this is unusual! I love the idea of the sugar wings, but our protagonist was wise indeed to grow her own.

HulderMN said...

Wonderful switch-up of POV on the Daedalus story. Love the empowerment!

Jordan Hirsch said...

Thank you, Lyndan Wade! This poem idea started from the idea of sugar wings and just grew from there!

Jordan Hirsch said...

Thanks, HulderMN! Looking back at what else I was writing when I first drafted this, there's definitely an empowerment thread during that time--especially in romantic relationships where the power balance was so one-sided.

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