The Ninth Metal

C. Dale Young

Who could fault a child for wanting to fly?
Exhibit 1: comic books. They are crammed with
heroes that fly: Green Lantern, Iron Man and,
of course, the ubiquitous Superman. I’m not crazy.
And I am not that naïve. Men aren’t supposed to fly.

Men aren’t supposed to have wings. And even as a child,
before my own wings had first erupted, I knew this.
But what does one do with Hawkman? Hawkman
with his wings. Hawkman flying with his wings extended.
I know a lot more now about flight. I even know now that

Hawkman’s flying was never a result of his wings.
But what child understands the physics of the ninth metal?
You know, that metal the Hawkman has in his boots,
his belt, etc.? It defies gravity at the mind’s will.
I hate the Hawkman. I mean, how advantageous

for this man with wings to also have this means
of defying gravity. I’m not crazy, but for years
I believed Hawkman actually used his wings to fly.
What is seen clearly is not always understood clearly.
But see, the lie of Hawkman is the most grievous

of these heroes that can fly. None of them have wings,
except for him. Seriously. Men aren’t meant to fly.
And on the roof of the house in late afternoon
so many years ago, the wings newly erupted and
extended to full wingspan, I did not triumph over gravity.

Since then, I have learned to control my wings, learned
to hide them. I don’t want to fly. I am more than a bird.
I am more than these wings I never asked for.
I am just a man no longer trying to defy
gravity’s insistent pull, to defy his own sad story.