“I wouldn’t want that tattooed man on top of me”
is what my sister has to say about my tandem
skydive photo.  
“Cody and I have a special bond,”
I quip to make her laugh, but it’s true. Because  

before he squeezed in tight on
the plane bench we straddled--
tugging, clipping, cracking that lap-dance joke--
we had had a moment.

Sitting across from
each other at that drop-zone, picnic table,
waiting for the clouds to clear, I confessed
the fear goaded by the orientation-video’s
cowardly actress - her tears and untacking -
and the potentially prophetic narrator’s
“You may change your mind at any time.”

“I really want to do this, Cody, but
ten-foot dock-jumps make me
count to three a dozen times.”
He whispered away my doubting:
“Don't worry, I'll push you out of the plane.
‘You may change your mind at anytime’...
but that will not change the outcome,”
and in my laughing relief, I knew I would fly.  

I examine the framed photo of me
flying beneath a stranger,
at our wind-combed straight-up hair,
at my flesh-pulled-tight arms floating atop the wind,
his tattooed arms spread above mine.
My eyes trace dark-ink outlines of cowardice-trumping gall--
grinning skulls, winding vines, and something like
angels’ wings, hovering wide during our fall.

Laura Johnson

If you have any comments on this poem, Laura Johnson  would be pleased to hear from you.