for Emer

She learned how to fly when she was six years old.
There wasn’t a trick to it.
You just flew or you didn’t, she supposed.

She wasn’t in the least birdlike.
She was heavy and compact and tough.
When she got muley there was no moving her.
She formed opinions slowly and held them forever.

It was a big secret, of course.
There would be tests if people knew — and she didn’t want to be tested.
What if the tests proved she couldn’t fly?
What would she do?
Not that it was easy to hide, but she was determined.

When she grew up she became a trapeze artist.
She gathered an undeserved reputation for bravery.
For the most daring of acrobatics.
The most death-defying leaps and twists and flips.
Of course it was all persiflage.
She didn’t know what it meant to fall, having never fallen.

She fell in love with one of the barkers.
He treated her vilely.
“Leave him,” Rose said. “He doesn’t deserve you.”
She tossed her head impatiently.
“No,” she said. “Of course he doesn’t.”

When she flew her face was soft; soft, beautiful, and transcendent.