This is the land to which
I belong -
these wings explore the height of it
the flight towards the sun
pressing wind, raising arms
the cowl of head looking
down at matter far below
farming, basins, isthmus
archipelago ... while here
in the white free air
(tranquility's domain)
weightless I rise to meet
the sun.  It is the scorch run -
the light that bites the eye
the gasp at beauty
as wings turn colouring, the skin
being close-in to the source
of passion, turning bronze
and sore -
the hurt of beauty
in the heart's brimming
expanded breath, the roar
and vision that is blessed
by width and depth of joy
above all pain
ecstasy unalloyed.

But the wings cannot hold
and the slow plummet down
to dimness and dry air
is the inevitable
foot-crunch on earth -
plateau of folded wings
put down
and a survey of the ground
rises, falls,
all horizon is replete with
obstacle and course
the source of muscle pain
the wail of spirit faltering
the baby-cry 
time rescinds, makes us
cower in a corner
unwilling face day reality.

And so the girding of all
power severed from its
bright sun/bright air -
the journey begins here
always the solid wall raised
and cogitation faced
as one considers how 
climb may be begun
obstacles overcome -
the deep breath in
and of its own accord
the right foot moves.

But there are traps
along the way - the sudden crust
of earthbreak, the crack
that heralds fall
and gasp at air as 
hands fold, bring the body
down after mind's
and the fall is forever
blackness closes like a fog
and darkness terrifies -
rush of air is dense -
you are acclimatised to
echo and the hard wall
before the fall stops.
Touchdown blind and thin,
a groping on all fours
for sense direction
and a gleam of light
the mind's eye gleam
that conjures day
sun, sky,
brings hope of release
from subterranean
caverns to traverse ...
how the mind is gibbering
how will has died ...
your fingers' grit
your bleeding feet
you burrow like a mole
in earthmaze
that has no exit
no heart, and cannot passify.

But through passageways
and convolutions causing
terror with each turn -
you rise by slow degrees
until an age away
you exit by some dark
mouth, haunting its own -
spitting you out -
and realise a mountain
ranged and crossed
is gone.
You went under
but came through

and so this land
this terrain, this thoroughfare of wax
now wanes -
the cliffs you slide upon
the wings you don
is dark earth eaten
bright air breathed ...
scorched by light you still sieze
the breath
and carry on
to beckoning
horizon won
by understanding
the place from whence
you've come is 
where you begin.
Life by Degrees
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