The Leap*


I thought I knew

what quick was

until I saw

a red-tailed squirrel

shoot the limbs

of a sycamore

and bough-spring up

the soft bark skin

of a birch so fast

you missed if you

blinked an eye.


What does he ride

when he skates the sky

with a soundless

flick of his feet?

What lifts him

so swiftly through

canopies of air

you only see

trembling leaves

brushed by the hint

of his passing?


The secret

of his finesse

is less the dash

than the double-take:

would that my

footsteps could

find the wind,

reach heaven.


Jerome L. McElroy


*Accepted in The Poet's Pen (late 1998)