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Posts Tagged ‘falling’

Bushwhack

 

 

I followed the road as if it were a teacher.

It went up, I went up. It turned, I turned.

It was a long time before I relearned

that the road is not the only way to go.

The first day I walked away from the gravel,

I fell. That was the day I learned

staying upright is not what’s most important.

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Caught in the Act

Let’s say you’re carrying a priceless bowl

overflowing with fruits and flowers,

and let’s say you’re balancing it on your head.

And let’s say you’re on a high wire.

And let’s say the wire is above the falls.

And let’s say it’s electrical.

And let’s say it’s about to come unplugged.

Let’s say you’re in the middle.

What is it that inspires you

to do these crazy things?

Regardless, Now’d be the right time to learn

how to use those enormous wings,

those wings you’ve pretended not to have—

that you hid because, who knows why?

We all fall sometime from the high wire act,

but some of us learn to fly.

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It all falls down eventually.
The ivory tower, the concrete tower,
the mountains, the mesas, the happily ever,
the everything we know. Even heaven
begins to sag eventually. First one corner.

One corner is enough to alarm the king.
It all falls down eventually.
“Heaven is sagging!” he shouts
to his servants. “We must keep it
from toppling!” And so he commands,
as kings often do, his workers to make it right.
“Build me a pillar of copper, red,
and place it under the sagging floor
so heaven doesn’t fall.”

My dear, I have been the king.
I have tried to construct
a pillar, a grand one, to hold up any depressions
that slant our love. When we list, I build
the pillar higher. For a time it feels right.

But the earth beneath the red copper pillar
was only made of earth. And it only worked
for a while before the ground gave way
beneath the weight of paradise.
It all falls down eventually.
The king wandered the streets of heaven
in search of the strongest man.
Finding him, he cried, “Heaven is collapsing!”
And he ordered the man to stand on the earth,
feet wide, spine tall. He said, “Hoist
that copper pillar on your shoulder. Now stay.”

My dear, I have wanted to be the strongest man.
I have hoisted and held the pillar until
my bones have buckled, my spine warped.
It all falls down eventually.

After a while, even a strong man’s shoulder
grows tired and sore. After a while, even
the strongest man must shift a burden
to his other shoulder. And though he is careful,
though he wills himself to be solid,
the earth quakes, it trembles as he shifts
his weight. And though heaven stays up,
things on earth fall down.

My love, I am not the strongest man.
I have fallen down and brought heaven
down with me. My love, I have dropped the pillar.
I have seen the crash of paradise and felt
the weight of its rubble. I have seen the vines
grow up green amidst the wreckage.
We have walked these ruins together.
It is easier here to laugh. I’m no longer
frightened of falling. Heaven is no place for us.
Here, are your shoulders tired, too? Come.
Let’s lie down in this grass. Feel how the earth
reaches up to meet us. Oh love, what is this
beauty, I am trembling.

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Before Work

So Mom, he says, If you’re ever falling on a platform
toward the ocean, let’s say from the edge of the space, and
you’re falling so fast that the impact would kill you, here is what you do.

We are eating buttered bagels with jam. The small silver table
reflects the long slant rays of early morning sun. I take a bite,
and look at him with eyes that say, Go on.

Well just before you hit the waves, he says, you jump.
You have to get off the platform, because once in the air
you become your own force. And it still might hurt, but you’ll live.

I do not recall enough of physics to be certain he is right.
But it sounds as if it could be true. And I stare at him
until he stares back, his mouth rimmed with poppy seeds.

It’s possible that it could work on land, too, he says,
though chances are it would hurt a lot more.
I wonder when he learned to say things such as, “Chances are.”

I do not tell him I have fallen, fallen from the edge of known.
I do not tell him there was no platform for me to jump from.
I do not tell him I was scared.

I say, That is very good advice. I’ll remember that next time
I fall. And we eat our bagels in the morning sun. And I fall in love
with the boy, with forces I don’t understand, and with the feeling of falling

right through the sunlit room, right through the breakfast chair,
right through the platform that might someday save me.
The dust sparkles like surf in the air.

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I remember how,
as I was free falling,
for weeks I fell,
so many hands reached
out for me as if
to save me from falling.

I extended my own hand,
not to catch hold, but
to wave as I passed.
I knew there was nothing
anyone could do
to stop the plummeting.

There was
no sorrow in this.
I was falling. That was
the way it was.
And then one day
I was not.

I don’t remember
how it stopped. There
was no violence.
No pain. No crash.
No blood. No bruises.
No scars.

Even knowing this,
as I watch you fall,
my hands can’t
stop themselves
from reaching.

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By the ankles
he would hold me
at the end
of the long, white pier.
“Don’t fall in,”
he would say.
“Whatever you do,
don’t fall in.”
His enormous,
generous hands
gripped my small legs
and he’d dangle
my sun-bleached hair
toward the water
till it dipped in the lake
and began to drip.
“Don’t fall in,”
I’d be squealing by now,
not out of any real fear,
more with the thrill
of being held at the edge,
knowing there was not
a thing I could do to save
myself, nor was there any
real danger. God,
he was strong.
And big. And so full
of love. And play.
“Don’t fall in,”
he would say,
the release me.

The water always colder
than I’d want it to be.
I’d come up all splutter
and dripping, somewhere
between happiness
and surrender. I’d clamber
back up the old wooden ladder
and beg him to do it again.
What did I know then of falling?

It is not the falling that hurts.
It’s the landing that can be so awful.
Tear of skin, fracture of bone,
terrible thud of flesh. He taught me
the joy of falling when it ended
in a splash.

I come to tell Dad I’m falling.
This time it is by my own hand.
I am falling even now
at the table where we sit.
Falling through the water glass.
Falling through the words as they fall
from my lips. Falling through lies I told.

He offers me his thick fingers, his enormous palm,
still so much bigger than my own.
He reaches for me. I am falling.
He would catch me if he could.
What do I know of falling?
I fall right through his hands.

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She does not choose
the flat rocks, the ones
that might stack like bricks.

She chooses a slender volume
of gray sandstone, rounded
to a point on one side,

and balances it on the beach,
point side up. The next rock
is also a misshapen thing … not

at all a likely candidate
for balancing, much less on its edge,
but with gentle fingers

Rachel sets it on its knobbed
end and moves her hands away.
It is not at all straightforward.

What balances, balances
through patience and some odd grace,
and Rachel adds an egg shaped oval

rock into the notch at the top and backs away.
The pile miraculously stands.
Though I try to turn my mind

toward metaphors for love,
there is nothing to get here
except the pleasure of sitting

beside the river, the hatch
catching in our hair, stacking rocks
one on top of the other, one unlikely

sweet spot at a time before they all
fall down.

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There is the moment
just before you fall

when you know
there is nothing left

to do except
to fall, to fall,

to fall and say yes
to the falling, to fall

and feel yourself
as you fall, how the stomach

rises where the throat
has been, it’s silent,

then—and it’s fast,
you think, so fast,

you are falling and not
a damn thing to be done

except to fall, to notice
the air rush over the skin,

yes nothing to do but
to fall, to keep falling,

to fall.

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I curl the question mark of my body
into the silence around us. There is silence

inside of us, too, a pure silence that pools
and spills and overflows making it easier now to not know,

to not even guess what comes next,
and after years of wanting answers and trying

to make the world fit into an equation or an outline
or a calendar square or a rhyme scheme, I am

more easy now with falling into silence, with falling and
not even believing in wings, falling past

the hands reaching out to rescue me as if
falling is a terrible thing. But even falling

is a form of knowing, just a new metaphor,
a new word for path. And even a question mark

knows where it curves, where it is line, where it
breaks, where it becomes a point, one small point

amongst many small points. I am learning,
unlearning, to be less than that.

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