Paean to Felix Baumgartner

2013
Paean to Felix Baumgärtner*

And angel once hovered there,
Looking back to spangled heavens,
The world’s curve, like a lost halo, behind his head.
And then he fell,
Bereft of wings,
To earth.
Everything a descent.
The price of hubris.

Your fall was not Lucifer’s.
Not pride but striving bore you up
For no earthly reason but to return
And, in that journey back,
Mark what marks Man:
Clipped but aspiring,
Bound to stretch what might be
To mighty capability.

To jump thus is no blasphemy.
It is the fruit of ingenuity,
Borne from Adam’s lapse.
Not for us to hanker for some lost idyll,
Instead to exorcise the curse.
Who better than you
(Baumgärtner – the “tree-gardener”)
To exercise the line
Between possible and permissible?
Where else but in your ancestors’ plot
Grew the tree (the hissing angel coiled about its boughs)
Which bore the fruit,
That invitation to trespass?
You, though, are no doomed Icarus
But that happy man
Who can touch the edge of heaven
Then leap home.
Laughing.
Felix.

*who jumped to earth on 14th October 2012 from a height of 39 kilometres