A TANDEM HANG-GLIDING PILOT FAILS TO CLIP HIS CLIENT’S HARNESS ON

Image by Sheri McFarland from Pixabay

Don’t believe
inattention can’t wolf a mind,
expectation—lamb another. They grieve—
those left behind—
that a short sentence appears to love
more the one who put a period where a comma was.  

They grieve
Lenami Godinez-Avila—friend, daughter, lover.
Fate or happenstance, it’s how that leaves
a bad taste in the mouth long after,
sinking the heart too late to address
the assumption the one in charge knows best.

Another poem which first appeared in Volume 8 of The American Journal of Poetry, with thanks to editor Robert Nazarene. This is my short take of a horrifying incident: news article . My next post will feature a longer (and prize-winning) aspect of the same event.

Tandem Hang-Gliding Incident

Photo by Anton Darius | @theSollers on Unsplash

An anniversary gift, her first time doing it
Lenami Godinez-Avila, 27, hugged the pilot
from behind as instructed, ran with him
awkwardly to the edge and stepped
into the wind-tug beyond anyone’s reach—

her harness not clipped on. She fell
like Icarus a thousand feet, melting
from sight with the pilot’s shoes
into a sea of limbs webbed with leaves
down, down to the forest floor.

Her boyfriend, filming it,
stopped. Love screamed
through the air as he ran down
Mt. Woodside to find her.
Until he did, there was hope.

The pilot glided back to an open
mouthed crowd, to his twelve
year old daughter watching,
and swallowed the memory
card onboard. His fiftieth birthday.

Who hasn’t known each of them
in dreams?—where we fall without
falling, see what can’t be happening,
get to creatively escape a bad scene.
And wake relieved, our lives still

hanging by a thread of assumptions.

This poem won the 2016 Lauren K. Alleyne Difficult Fruit Poetry Prize. It reads like fiction but is completely factual – sadly so. I received the news New Year’s Eve and it appeared in IthacaLit early January, 2017. An auspicious start to the year! This poem is also included in my chapbook “Irresistible”, forthcoming from Finishing Line Press this spring. Copies are available for preorder here:  https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/irresistible-by-lynne-burnett/