I. To Crawl
It is called disassociation.
You center foot on rope and wonder
if the pole’s been calibrated as you demand.
Don’t look down, amateurs say,
yet you know you must take that sweeping survey
for the consequence of misstep. Wind, yet silence,
except for the silk slide of feet along the cable
that feels like the warmth of your mother’s fleshy arms,
the equal warmth of your lost father’s backhand.
Inch by inch, your mind wanders to places
it should not go. A year in India wasted,
a cold callous moment in an otherwise considerate life:
scribbling seven random numbers on a slip of paper,
handing it to her while looking directly into her eyes.
Now you are thinking, and think you should not,
yet you move forward with the thought that most
of those under you are here for the stark hazard of it all,
a warm splash of abject expression on a gray sidewalk canvass,
or a slow impressionist seep into carnival sawdust.
The hotdogs, the soda cups, the cotton candy melts in the sun;
sticky hands that solemnly attest they were there to see the Great _______
finally understand how hard the earth can be.
It’s all in precise timing, foot by foot, as the carnival crowd dreams
of living without stain, minus a fall.
Suspended on your sagging suspension of thin cable,
each metal coil now felt in the twenty eight bones of each flexed foot.
The agony of slow movement, the measure by measure.
The agony of confirming this feeble anatomy in which we
are born into and which must be borne.
I would spit if I could somehow gather the saliva,
If I could find a way to fall with a pretend grace.
My life does not flash. It is all very
technical, controlled, that letting loosed limb
yet shaking tensed sweat muscle of the most
advanced yoga, which I used but mostly
loved beyond utility to spectacle.
II. To Fall
I fly off my mother’s roof.
Clipped wings and banded
yet swear that I soar for a moment
before crashing into
the dry lawn,
dormant in this heat.
In between I feel my life
slip away without replay
That is all.
I simply fall.
yet a broken collarbone
does not kill and self-anointed magic capes
will not help you fly.
Sadly, that is all.
slapping my forehead midair
as only then I think:
III. To Land
The wings of moths handled
without due care to their ridiculous fragility,
a residue of dust left on fingertips
is all that’s left besides the writhing thorax.
Fingers to lips, I only taste haste
and recombination. Another flight
grounded forever. The shock of it all.
The ease of falling.
You will watch yourself and find
a pull of beauty in the arrogant volition.
You will slip honor out of this sealed envelope
and read your fortune.
With subterfuge, steam the sealed crease,
as all that is redeemable lifts itself
into dust under window light
and you finally give up trying
to follow even that one lonely mote
as it settles. Once fallen, landing
is always a compromise between
crumbled wings and the ashen taste
of surviving without even
the most fragile of wings.