Today's poem is by Sandra Beasley

Theories of Falling

After years of research, I can only guarantee
that if you go over Niagara in a kayak, you will die.
A ball of chicken wire and quilts? You might make it.
Oak barrel? You'll walk away,
though just to die in a poor house ten years later.

The odds drop above the eighth floor window yet
even from 30,000 feet, a canopy of trees may catch you.
Luck comes to fighter pilots and Czech stewardesses.

Rotoscope cameras have captured the cat as he swivels
first head, then spine, aligns his hind legs, arches
for impact. He turns this helix over and over
until the ground rises to meet him. He bounces.

We do not bounce.

Not that we don't have a knack for certain kinds of falling:
bringing a man home after five rounds of bourbon
because the snow piled up, and he has no coat.
Leaving three friends to try hailing a taxi to Virginia
while he burrows for warmth and says

You're so good, you're so good to me
hands diagramming every curve, a kind
of sleepy, lustful mathematics. Swivel your head,

align your legs. See if you can land on your feet.

Sometimes an elevator cable does snap—
there is an immediate heat,
the squeal of atoms torn away.
As you hurtle toward bottom you may think
If I time this right, I can be in the air when it hits.

From the outside we see this makes no difference—
what matters is speed relative to the earth, not
the floor of the elevator. But you are not outside.
You're in the cage, bracing your knees,
blood coiling in your heels. So go ahead—

Jump, for God's sake.
Jump like your life depends on it.

Copyright © 2007 Sandra Beasley All rights reserved
from Theories of Falling
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