by Caroline Johnson
“What am I but a solitary gull between earth and heaven?”—Tu Fu
I don’t fear black holes.
Everyone has one, a dark star.
When you pass into it, gravity
bends—your feet pull, your head
stretches. But for now, warm
thermals push you and me over
farms and lakes. A ridge of wind lifts
us into the ether. With no engine,
carried only by waves of energy,
we glide in a tandem cockpit.
So many years ago you told me
your theory about death.
You called it the black hole theory.
We all disappear, you said.
That’s all. Nothing. Nada.
You dolphin down away from
darkness. A seagull arches
over water, his wings stretched
to get the most wind. He glides.
We glide. It is all about lift, you say.
We soar at an even ratio, our glider
sifting through the silence of the clouds.
Father, you can stay airborne for hours
by piloting us through the rising air.
Only light and shadows here.
Yet I know it’s going to end.
You are going to die, I am going
to die. We will vacate these bodies,
this planet, disappear into that frozen
star you speak of. No energy.
No light. Just decayed matter
500 billion years old. But what
happens to the light, I wonder.
Will we fall like Icarus, our faith
a cruel joke? Or will we rebound,
jump back like a kite billowing on
cyclones and velocity? Father, stay
airborne. Stay part of the Milky Way.
Don’t leave me. Keep drifting,
for what are we but gulls gliding?
Previously published in The Caregiver (Holy Cow! Press, 2018)