Calm – © M. Weisel

If you could have wings would you want them?


            I don’t know.


I mean, if you could use them to fly, would you want them?


            Yes, if I could fly.


But they would be really big.


            How big?

They might brush against your knees as you walked, or be bigger than some doorways.
            And what if you couldn’t ever take them off?

           I still would want them.


If you couldn’t take them off, even if you were going somewhere,
           or going to bed, or eating at a table, or you wanted to pick
           someone up, you could never take them off?

           Yes, I would. I would still want them.


Because you could fly?


           Yes, because of the flying.


And if they were heavy, or even if no one else had them, and even if
           your children and their children didn’t have them?


           Yes, I think so.


But you would still have arms and hands and legs, and you could still
           speak, but you had wings, too. You would want the wings, too?


           Yes, I would want the wings, too.


And when you were walking around, people would stare at you, and they
           wouldn’t necessarily understand that you could fly?


           I understand. I understand that they wouldn’t understand.


Or if people thought they meant something, something they didn’t really


           I would know what the wings were for.


And if you had them, forever—the forever, I mean, that is your life,
           you would still want them?


           Yes, I would want them. I would take them, so long as I could fly.

that I might fly away
           that I might fly away where the ships
                that I might fly away where the ships of pine wood pass between the dark cliffs
“Wings” from Cinder: New and Selected Poems, Graywolf: 2017. Copyright © 2017 by Susan Stewart. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota,

Suggested Citation

Stewart, Susan. “Wings.” American Studies Journal 67 (2019). Web. 23 May. 2019. DOI 10.18422/67-02.


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