by Isha Shah | Art by Jennifer Lee


if she had wings, 

they would be golden, 

speckled and dusted 

with sunshine stolen. 

a bright-burning flame, 

blazing flags unfurled.

with fire and embers, 

she’d blind the world.


if she had wings,

they would be strong. 

through gilded cage

and violent throng, 

she’d crush and cut, 

and vanquish thee.

she’d break the world, 

and watch you flee. 


if she had wings, 

they would be safe. 

an ever-warm haven

for any wild waif. 

her downy unders, 

quiet and tender. 

she’d save her world, 

and you’d surrender. 


if she had wings,

they would set her free. 

no longer tied, 

nor to earth nor to me.

feathers spread wide, 

face turned to sky, 

and i left on earth, 

to watch as she flies.


i have wings!

i am blessed: 

the sky came down, 

my head he kissed. 

my hand he held, 

his spell a whisper—

 a sharp pain in my back, 

the wind moving swifter. 

i have wings!

i have come to the sky, 

i serve in the courts

of king and queen high.

i have wings, 

and i am free!

on the winds i glide

from the land to the sea. 

my burns are soothed

by smooth blue satin, 

my head pillowed

by clouds of cotton. 


she had wings, 

and they were golden. 

speckled and dusted 

with sunshine stolen.

they gave her life,

she gave me hope,

i gave her love—

she left me to cope.

she has wings, 

it’s been twenty years, 

the hope she’d return 

slowly disappears, 

my daughter has her spirit, 

my son, her nose. 

my hands are now old

(she once held them close.)

she has wings, 

they have set her free, 

she must be happy.

(she could be with me.)


if i had wings

i could be free,

conquer the wind,

and harness the sea;

if i had wings 

i could be brave,

valiantly, not silently, 

go to my grave;

if i had wings 

i could be strong, 

protect my home, 

and right all wrongs;

oh, if i had wings 

i would be safe.

i’d run away, hide, 

no comfort i’d crave.


she has wings, 

i watch her fly, 

her smile so bright, 

it lights up the sky. 

she has wings, 

and i must let her go. 

she’s never been so happy, 

(but i’ll never see her grow).


i have wings,

and i am happy.

but this high above,

it is cold, unhappy.

the warmth of your love, 

it calls me down, 

i yearn to walk again, 

to lose this crown. 

i have wings, 

i crave your hugs. 

you lie beneath the clouds, 

safe and snug. 

i rear like a horse, 

downward i plunge. 

closer and closer, 

i can’t wait to lunge

into your arms, 

your scent, your smile, 

your love, it waits, 

nearing by the mile. 

i have wings, 

i pass through the clouds, 

i see cities below, 

alive with crowds. 

so close! almost there!

i reach out my arms—

my breath is knocked out

by a cruel wall of bars.


i have wings:

they are bloody and beat. 

these bars will not break

nor bend beneath my feet

im tired and hurt, 

but i will not cease.

it’s been a month or two 

ill soon be released

i have wings, 

want to be free, 

i want to go home, 

want your love with me. 


“she had wings,”

my grandchildren listen, 

they watch in concern

as my blind eyes glisten. 


i have wings

and they are not strong.

i have not escaped

nor vanquished a throng. 

i have wings, 

they slash at the sky. 

 the blue satin won’t rip, 

maybe neither will i. 

i have wings

and i must get home, 

my love is awaiting,

with no sky to roam.


if she had wings, 

i would be alone. 

no love any longer

for off she’d have flown

no smile to admire, 

nor laughter to cherish, 

for if she had wings, 

she’d never come home.

i have wings,

i came to the sky, 

i cannot leave, 

(is it too weak to cry?)

i have wings. 

and i am alone. 

there is no love,

on this flighty throne.

i thought i’d be free 

but the sky’s no home, 

it’s a gilded cage, 

an unyielding dome

that hangs over my head

as surely as death;

i’ll break through these bars,

if it takes my last breath.


she had wings, 

i fondly remember. 

her smile and lips

now only an ember

in the flame of my heart, 

as it sputters, dying.

she’d never returned, 

she’s happier flying. 


i have wings, 

i have escaped my cage.

but now i fall, 

i’m wizened with age. 

the wind in my ears, 

my eyes closed, unseeing. 

before i hit the ground, 

i think: this is freeing. 

i have wings, 

but they need not fly. 

they’ve done their job,

never gone awry. 

they’d freed and saved me

and broken the world. 

now they can rest;

to the ground I whi— 


she had wings, 

they set her free, 

but she won’t return, 

nor to earth nor to me. 

she had wings, 

i think with a smile.

i’ll see her again

as i walk the last m—