Becoming Hawk

The woman who took to the skies.

She thought she could fly. Imagined wings sprouting from her shoulders. She raised one foot.  Rolled up onto the ball, balancing on that one point alone. She knew she could fly.  

Then back to the ground she tumbled, shivered and shook. Back to toe, foot, knees.  All the way to the earth.

“You are not meant to fly.” Mother called, “That is not you, that is not who you are.”

But she’d felt it. Ribs growing lighter, her head weightless, her shoulder blades expanding. “I know I can fly.”  She cried back. “I know it.”

For days and weeks and months, Luna practiced. Until she could stand for hours on the tippiest tip of her toe. Her arms outstretched in the most delicate of balance.

She stood that way. At first on the ground, then on a boulder. She found the tallest tree, on the highest mountain, and stood there for hours. Yet still trapped by gravity.

She made friends with Wind as he blew by. At first, he watched out of curiosity, then out of respect, and finally out of awe, for this woman wanted to fly so keenly.  

“I wish I could help you.” He whispered in her ear.  “I wish I could take you with me, into the wild skies. Show you all that was possible.”

Undaunted, Luna wove a cape of silk. “Watch me.” She shouted to Mother, “Watch me and see if I can’t fly.” Into the air she threw herself. To Wind she called out, “Take me! Take me into the heavens with you.”

Though Wind could catch her when she fell, hold her aloft for a while as she drifted down, he couldn’t take her into the heavens.

In tears, she raged, “Why won’t you free me? Why won’t you let me go?”

Mother couldn’t understand why Luna wouldn’t stay where she belonged, with her own people. Feet planted firmly on the ground. Relishing rock and sand and soil, and things with roots that grew deep into the ground. Down, down, until they wrapped themselves around Mother herself.

“I need to fly.” Luna cried as she picked herself up once again, limping across the meadow.  “It calls to me, fills my dreams. It is only there I am truly free, my own true self. There are so many others. You have so many others.”

The next day Luna began again. This time gathering up feathers, large and small, in all colors of the rainbow. From all different birds she gathered, crow and sparrow, eagle and finch. She sewed them on with spider silk. “Thank you.”  She said to each feather found, each skein of silk taken. 

She sewed for days and weeks and months until she sewed a pair of wings large enough to hold her. She took them to the top of the tree, on the highest of mountains.  Strapping them to her arms and waist, she called to Wind, “Take me. Take me up into the heavens. I want to fly with you.”

She raised her arms, spreading them wide, feeling the weight of them. Then she dropped into the air, certain that Wind would catch her.

But Luna hadn’t figured on the wings being so heavy. She found herself falling and spiraling down, buffeted this way and that. Though Wind arrived just as she was jumping, he couldn’t get under her quickly enough. 

At the last minute, as Mother held her breath, waiting for the impact even she could not prevent, Luna righted herself. Her wings caught Wind and he lifted her.  Even higher, as she found the currents and took herself whirling into the sky. From that great height, she roared in joy and laughter. Dancing with clouds, sliding down rainbows, riding tornadoes.

Finally, Mother understood. As her daughter’s joy rippled against her heart, she saw her daughter needed the sky, needed to fly. No matter how much she wanted her by her side, she couldn’t force her to remain earthbound.

No gift is given without exchange. “I release you,” Mother called out, “I release you. But know this, if you choose the sky, the wind, the heavens, you will no longer be able to walk on the earth. You will no longer be able to put your feet in the cool waters of a stream, skip along the sands, or lie down among the wildflowers. You will never again be able to feel the cool ground beneath your feet. You must choose.”

Luna raised her face to the sun, felt the caress of the breeze on her cheek. Inhaled the wild salt of the sky over the seas and chose. “I will take to the air, Mother. I choose my wings. I choose my freedom.”

“So be it.”  With those words, the feathers that had been sewn and strapped to Luna’s body melded into her skin. Spreading from her arms to her chest and down her legs. Coating her in their light fluff.  “So be it.” Mother whispered again. Her heart aching with loss and pride.

Luna raised her new wings and with a great whoop leaped into the skies, carried into the heavens by Wind.

Mother watched for a while, as Luna grew smaller and smaller. For hours, she could hear Luna’s cries of joy as she soared and flew, relishing her freedom.

Forever more, every time she heard Hawk’s cry over the wild meadows, she would think of her daughter.

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