Leading in a man’s world.
Is like being dropped from the sky and 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 stretching up to wonder.
Why are they flying and we are not? What have we done wrong?
Some of us scrap together makeshift wings. “It’s all about confidence,” they say, flying like Icarus into the sky.
We never see them again.
The younger ones throw themselves up over and over. Kites desperate to catch the wind, only to bounce and crash across the ground.
The older ones sit down and watch, mending wings and giving advice.
It could be much worse, they say.
Things are getting better, they say.
Perhaps we should just be grateful, they say.
I am becoming one of the older ones.
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. They were broken from the beginning. No amount of confidence, gratitude or belief could make them fly.
Broken wings make broken women. Or perhaps it is the other way around?
I gather and carry the wings away. Set them down gently. Build a pyre.
The other women see the light, move towards its brightness. Dragging their wings behind, they approach to offer their own to the flames.
We stand, blinking back the heat, hotter and hotter. The air expands, and like bits of twirling ash, we begin to rise.
We are flying.