the hours they devote to it: ko'd, shot
in the back, machine-gunned in the
gut; tackled, clotheslined, checked,
body-blocked, tripped; in slow motion
whenever possible; preferably
for an audience of friends or family;
dramatically, comically; into
pillows, hay, leaves, mud, snow—
any pile promising padding or a mess;
water, too: flips, splits, bellyflops,
can openers and cannonballs.
Some may argue that phylogeny
recapitulates ontogeny, that
they are reliving that initial fall
from grace themselves; others may
insist they somehow sense their
own mortality, and are preparing for
their future decline; but I am convinced—
watching my sons catapult and pirouette
through the invisible air, then replay
those all too brief moments of flight
again and again for friends—they are
enchanted by the aesthetics of gravity.
Icarus is their hero, not for his
Pyrrhic success or greedy heedlessness,
but for his most delightful failure.
"The Aesthetics of Gravity" originally appeared in the Fall/Winter 2008 (Vol. 103, #3/4) issue of Poet Lore.