Angelina D’Roza

Fairytale No. 16

After Aesop

The tortoise at last looks up
envies the birds.

That was the day we climbed Mam Tor. Gabriella blistered her heels and flirted with a man in a glider, who was probably waving back through the sunshine bouncing off his tinted dome of cockpit. She’s on tiptoe, hand upstretched, her soft underarm skin exposed, waving like a schoolgirl to the glider, the man, the sky, and we’re that close, in vest tops, lit with sweat, watching him smooth down the one cloud, easy as, I think if I could just get up there, catch on the wing, let go over the Hope Valley… Gabriella says maybe. But she has a thing for pilots. I have a thing for heights.

      I hollow my bones with spoons,
one of those sets for measuring sugar.
     The tablespoon works my sternum
but my collarbone, the bones in my wrists,

       only take the quarter teaspoon.
You dig out each of my vertebrae,
       the heart of my pelvis, for weeks
my marrow under your nails.

Another man tied himself to a hundred helium balloons today, set himself sail over Glossop. They are not all red like the song. Or blue like the ones along the Berlin Wall. I love balloons let go: the South Koreans sending news north, or Maori kites flying letters to the gods. Sometimes I think about this when I think about you. So much depends on wind speed, direction. I watch the footage, mute the commentary trying to predict (a), when he’ll land, and (b), where.

‘Fairytale No. 16’ appears in Angelina D’Roza’s collection Envies the Birds. Angelina D’Roza and Pete Green lead Vanishing Point, a poetry walk through central Sheffield, on Sunday 28 May (11am start at Lady’s Bridge). Click here for more details of the event (advance booking essential). Read the Festival interview with Angelina D’Roza here.