Gregory Pardlo

Professional wrestler Owen Hart embodied his own
omen when he battled gravity from rafters to canvas

in a Kansas City stadium. Like a great tent collapsing,
he fell without warning, no hoverboard, no humming-

bird’s finesse for the illusion of flight, no suspension
of disbelief to hammock his burden—the birth of virtue—

in its virtual reality. His angelic entrance eclipsed
when his safety harness failed. He fell out of the ersatz

like a waxwing duped by infinities conjured in a squeegee’s
mirage. Spectators wilted as the creature of grief emerged

to graze on their sapling gasps and shrieks. I’d like to think
that, freed of self-hype, he realized his mask was not a shield,

and that he didn’t spend his last attempting to method
Zeno’s proofs. E.M.T.s like evangelicals huddled to jolt

the hub of Hart’s radiating soul as fans prayed the stunt
might yet parade the emperor’s threads wrestlers call kayfabe.

Kayfabe, a dialect of pig Latin, lingo for the promise to drop
at the laying on of hands. To take myth as history. Semblance

as creed. A grift so convincing one might easily believe
it could work without someone else pulling the strings.

Last updated December 12, 2022