I rebuffer the YouTube video of Swiss ex-fighter pilot Yves Rossi
& watch this man-cum-black wing let go the rails & bail out of the helicopter
like a Navy SEAL, whirligig in a tailspun freefall until his aelerons
& helmet’s rudder lock in, tilting into clean air.
I think of birds’ aerobatics. How the swift hatchling- plummeting
from the nest for the first time, remembers flight just in time. I see his manouevers
named in the comments. Falling leaf. Chandelle. Afterburners quilled
with kerosene for feathers, I watch him jockey in high definition
a wide, blue field & wish it were me barrel rolling the Alps with a ballerina’s
easy pirouette over shards of coal-dusted ice. I can’t see it enough,
the dream every generations’ boy dreams- whether Iron Man, or an eagle,
all of us wishing to attempt the split s. On replay I consider
his skull’s declension from the slab of black wing,
& the moment’s precipice where he submits to some higher plane of physics
that to the rest of us is only dark art. Shoulders camber forward then
he dives, puncturing cirrus, then cumulous cloud, contrails twisting
at a moment past the last believable one when he cranes his head & body
in a half pitch skyward once more, a cough of flame as he cuts power,
pulls the ripcord on a ballooned parachute which lowers him
to the ground in a landing he- incredibly, survives.
Jonathan Travelstead served in the Air Force National Guard for six years as a firefighter and currently works as a full-time firefighter for the city of Murphysboro, and also as co-editor for Cobalt Review. Having finished his MFA at Southern Illinois University of Carbondale, he now works on an old dirt-bike he hopes will one day get him to the salt flats of Bolivia. He has published work in The Iowa Review, on Poetrydaily.com, and has work forthcoming in The Crab Orchard Review, among others. His first collection “How We Bury Our Dead” by Cobalt Press was released in March, 2015, and his “Conflict Tours” is forthcoming in Spring of 2017.