Red Cape

When I was five

I used to jump from the top of the stairs

to the landing with a red cape,

believing if I kept trying

I’d fly

I’d be Super-girl

saving the world from damage.

Many afternoons, my bare feet

thudded the catchy carpet

as smoke rose up the stairs

with the patience of a coming storm,

my father puffing a pipe,

his big knuckles unharmed

from their crack into my cheek;

his eyes empty of what he’d done

beneath my cape.

It didn’t matter that there was no such thing

as heroes.

At least I could fly.

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