Nikki Giovanni

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What is the meaning of Nikki Giovanni's poem "Sky Diving"?

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“Sky Diving” is about bracing oneself for death. The speaker is aware of her impending death. Though she is scared to face it, she sounds excited and jubilant at the prospect of realizing her “essence” fully, and finding absolute independence.

The sky has always been a source of mystery. What’s its limit and what lies beyond it are beyond human comprehension. The poet draws an analogy between the sky and death because she thinks death, like the sky, is mystifying and enigmatic. What happens after death is inscrutable.

Therefore, dying is like diving into an unfathomable sky. Quite aptly, the title "Sky Diving" encapsulates the experience of the poet on her deathbed.

The poet experiences a state of wild excitement with the death looming large over her. She’s “singing off-key” and “talking too loud.” She has embraced herself “to cushion the fall.”

She thinks it must be very painful when the soul would leave her body. She imagines the pain she’ll have to endure:

I will spiral
 through that Black hole
 losing skin limbs
 internal organs
 searing
my naked soul

But death is not all about agony and fear. Beyond the pain lies the bliss, according to the poet. Death would relieve her of all her earthly burdens and concerns. She would be free and independent. She’s hopeful to "land" in a new world (“in the next galaxy”).

By “losing” the body, she would be free from all sorts of bondages, anxieties and responsibilities. She would be left only with her “essence” in her new abode.

Landing
 in the next galaxy
 with only my essence
 embracing myself

“Sky Diving” is an interesting study into the mind of a person who could sense his or her approaching death. Death generates a multitude of emotions. The themes of fear and hope, death and freedom, loneliness and possibilities run through the poem.

The poet is able to grasp the inevitability of death. Instead of running away from it, she prepares herself to embrace it with grace.

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