take off, they said,
would be most difficult.
“after that the breeze will lift you,
cause you to soar, glide”
– the offer of freedom,
an exquisite
unparalleled perspective
on a dismal world below.

and so she took off,
fluttering, dipping, recovering,
testing out fledgling wings,
determined to
reach dizzying heights
spurred by exhilaration
and an intoxicating
sense of weightlessness.

an air current caught her,
caressed, sustained, buoyed
her soundlessly, invisibly,
rising, plummeting, soaring again
without effort.
she delighted in the brilliant
glow of sunset and the misty,
doleful hues of midnight.

a piercing downdraft clipped
the tip of a wing
instantly pulling her
into icy blackness
spiraling, plunging,
unequipped and powerless
to stem this invisible force –
losing orientation.



bleak consciousness seeped
back incrementally,
like the faint whiff of mustiness
creeps around floral clusters
beside a sun-deprived,
deserted mountain shack.
she could recognize neither herself
nor what surrounded her.

all movement had ceased – indeed,
was not possible.
yet, in spite of
worst prediction, her landing
had been cushioned
graciously, mercifully, unpredictably caught,
the scope of which was hazy,
beyond her ability to decipher.

what lay around her?
from hence divine scent of lavender?
was the down beneath her
real or imagined?
she heard no sound,
detected, rather, an indistinguishable presence
exuding warmth, radiance, serenity,
having neither origin nor expiration.

this liminal existence
bore no hint of redemption –
not the faintest glimmer of identifiable
solace or secluded sanctum.
no. this condition
could only be understood
as tragedy. failure.
that dreaded doldrum of defeat.

color emerged slowly,
shyly slipping out from behind
angry bleakness,
anxious barrenness,
to caress faded memory,
covert yearning,
as if one departed
were to defy the pallor of death.

but, color was not left alone.
vaguely indistinguishable tones
began to harmonize, first one,
then multitudes of melodies,
first fluttering, soon bounding
dancing, cavorting, yes leaping
over muteness, stillness,
and every form of isolation.

when the first faint wisps of fragrance
nipped at her senses, cajoling her
to be again, believe again, breathe again,
feathers of tenderness,
breezes of sacredness,
clouds gilded with shimmering  light
woke her to vistas and visions
that beguiled and beckoned.

no word, no sound, no sight nor grounds
for hope, yet hope did rise,
inexplicably, as yon’ star journeys
heaven’s canopy without discernible
guide or map or cause.
her spirit made its way
to realms quite unexplored and uncharted,
all whilst undeniably caught.

  © Julia Penner-Zook, 2016
photo credit: Naveen Chandra via


4 thoughts on “Caught

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