Independence didn’t treat you well.
Eighteen finally came around and it seemed you were in free fall
with your breaths catching in short gasps as you accelerated
into what you knew now as oblivion and nothing else.
You spread your arms out, seeking resistance, even knowing
how inflexible are the laws of nature, and could not fly or learn how
to open a parachute in the midst of your blind groping fears.
And then you hit the ground with a shattering thud, the way you
didn’t think it would feel at all, at all.
We laughed, because that’s what you do, that’s how it goes.
That tree you loved when you were young, infinite in its magnitude,
some stick adorned in its guise of envy green
He was shuddering and shifting in some distant approach of chill winter wind.
We laughed in his branches, when the atmosphere hadn’t crumbled you to ashes,
and we just watched the old you falling, flake by flake,
slowly answering gravity’s pull.
Snow followed your meteorite, but it wasn’t snow at all.
You only notice ash in clumps.
So you clung to this hill where sloped in the smallest degrees,
aged in these acrophobic sensibilities.
Winds bent all the trees in angles and normality was skewed
but you forced a delicate balance, stuck fast and static
when you pushed onward, a plodding, constant rate.
You must learn to cope, they said.
For someday you will fall again, and it always happens.
It is a natural component of gravity that tugs one down in these ranges.
No matter the little frictions that it kindles in your fireplace of stone,
the snow on these hills will turn to water and firmness with which you grip
your cane will fail and you will fall again,
so ready yourself.
We chuckled to ourselves and called them foolish adherents
but believed them all the while-- barely
caught ourselves slipping those mornings, rolling snowballs to the top only
to see them round the peaks and crackle eagerly
into powder at the base of the abyss,
which we could barely see.
April was the cruelest month, when the little forces of erosion would trickle and course beneath our boots.
With a spongy splash, you planted your cane into the mud and clutched until
your knuckles were whiter than white.
You dug your heels into the softened ground, no longer pushing onward but in,
and the earth bled brown around your toes and erased the indentions
our footfalls had made.
We yelled in terror but there was no help for us.
The days and nights spun circles around our heads, but time passed like
the gathering stream on the mountainside in my memory
and I only knew: they were right.
Nature didn’t treat you well.
The right time had finally come around and it seemed you were in free fall
and my breaths caught in short gasps as you accelerated—
But where are you?
When the snow flurries on the mountaintop,
I ask if this is you again,
Transforming in another new paradigm.