Living in a man’s world.
Is like being dropped from the sky, expected to fly.
“This is how you do it,” they say, “Open your wings. It’s easy. Watch.”
But I don’t have wings, so I land hard, the breath knocked from my lungs.
On the ground is where we find each other. Delicate hands reaching out to touch, eyes looking up to wonder.
Why are they flying and we are not? What have we done wrong?
We scrap together makeshift wings. Tying together branches, whatever we can find.
The younger ones throw themselves into the air, over and over. Kites desperate to catch the wind, only to bounce and crash across the ground.
“It’s all about confidence,” others say, flying like Icarus into the sky. We never see them again.
The older ones sit down and watch, mending wings, sighing, and giving advice.
Things are getting better, they say.
You should be grateful, they say.
It could be much worse, they warn.
I am becoming one of the older ones. Tired of watching, my hands cramped from binding and patching.
I look at the wings in my lap, broken and splintered. They are too heavy, too big. Fit to another.
They are not our wings. No amount of confidence or effort could make them fly.
Broken wings make broken women… Or perhaps it is the other way around?
I gather the wings. Carry them away. Set them down gently and build a pyre.
The other women notice the light, curious. They move toward its brightness, dragging their wings behind, and then lift them up as an offering to the flames.
Together we stand, blinking back the heat, hotter and hotter. A circle of women around burning wings.
The air expands, and like bits of twirling ash, we begin to rise. Straight up.
We are flying.