Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Falling Through

Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Falling Through

Article excerpt

My neighbor, perched high on a ladder

one weekend afternoon,

trimmed the wrong branch and sent himself

slowly wheeling through the sky.

He curved through the air as smoothly

as if he'd been drawn with a compass,

a graceful inflection discordantly accompanied

by crepitating branches and breathy leaves,

and landed in a lush, bent sapling.

To call it beautiful misses the point.

To say he stood and walked away unharmed

is true. For fifteen years I've remembered that shape,

its pace, but it's the moment when he understood

it would happen that I return to: that fear,

and whether he resisted it or surrendered.

How often it happens that we step, half-consideringly

into the impersonal forces at work,

unable to pull ourselves back.

The tread of the stair beneath our feet

the appalling speed of our own blood. …

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