They were just nodules
Protruding from behind his shoulder blades
And after that
The rapid growth of membrane and quill
Was not an unpleasant sensation.
But having wings
Can create all kinds of problems:
His wife refused to sleep with him;
He was made suddenly redundant;
Children followed him silently
Through the streets.
So he flew
Fishtailing and chandelle
After the wild geese
That drew him with their cadences
As sirens drew sailors towards a promise
They could never keep
Only to return
To avoid the guns of frightened farmers
And the cautions of police.
Finally, tired and hounded,
He went to a surgeon,
Had his wings removed and burned.
Now he’s got a new job
With good prospects for promotion,
Makes love to his wife three times a week
And children no longer regard him with awe
He’ll look up towards the sky
And the flesh
Between his shoulder blades
Will tug and ache.
Kevin Patrick McCann
Illustration Nick Victor