He falls to earth at the drop of a hat,
crashing to the floor like a giant redwood,
no bracing himself for impact, no recoil,
Plain and simple, no bells and whistles, no heavenly trumpet solo,
just no-frills falling.
He collapses silently with no witnesses
so he’s not even sure he fell at all.
There was a time, aeons ago, when he sliced through summer clouds,
like a Samurai sword,
wingtip to wingtip with razor-edged swifts,
now he wakes amongst drifts of dust and garden grit,
his head resting on pillows of grey fluff.
Teeth skitter like startled sheep on ice,
ricocheting off the skirting board;
his smile never quite the same again.
There was a time when he soared above shimmering pewter seas,
defending the oblivious innocents below;
the smell of engine oil and leather on his skin,
the infinite blue mirrored in his eye.
He can’t find anything to anchor him
in this darkest corner of the kitchen
and for a moment he forgets who he is and where he belongs.
He thinks he can hear the throaty song of Merlin engines
and the roar of the skylarks.
The floor is unyielding, harder than cumulus,
colder than a January hailstorm.
He notices, irritably, that a cupboard hinge is loose
and makes a mental note to fix it
when he’s vertical again.
He can’t remember how he came to be kissing the flagstones
and is worried he has left something in the oven.
He remembers the fierceness of flying
and the friends he lost along the way
and wonders how it could come to this,