Flight Response

I’m trying to make friends. She says, ‘Did
you know, research shows that vertigo
is your whole body flinching at the notion
that you might jump this time, that some part
of your heart can’t resist the urge to fly?’

I hesitate to reply. I didn’t know that. I am ...

About the poem

This poem was published in the first issue of a new literary magazine, Nightingale and Sparrow.

Flight Response was initially a writing prompt that I pulled from a pot on my desk, and it reminded me of something my friend Nisha said to me when we were at university about flight. It struck me then as a strange and beautiful thing to say, and when I remembered it, I thought again about that. I also thought about how, at the time, we were all new at university and trying to get along with new people. I found that a particular challenge because my time at school hadn’t been at all successful on a social level. I was very scared of saying the wrong thing, or not being cool enough, or having to face a three-year repeat of what I’d experienced at school and that made me very cautious.

And then I met Nisha, my best friend at university and still one of my best friends today despite the geographic distance between us. From the first moment we met, she was just her own funny, brilliant, brave, beautiful and cool self. I can’t imagine who I’d be without her friendship. I wrote this poem to immortalise the striking thing she said, but also to highlight the beauty of some people who are just so at ease with themselves that they can not only welcome others - including shy, terrified people whose first response is to run away - but also encourage them to have the courage to spread their wings.

I am very happy this poem is out in the world to spread the word about how amazing my friend Nisha is, and also for it to be featured in this beautiful new poetry journal, Nightingale and Sparrow.