Sunday, August 14, 2005

"Finding my Balance"

From the ground I am certain we will be safe.
The instructor smiles his reassurance, the gap
between his front teeth forces an answering
smile from me. I nod my head to his barrage

of rapidfire french. He waves calloused fingers
stained with nicotine in the air over our heads,
points to the double carabiners, the life
lines strung in flourescent orange along the tall

pines. He snugs down my harness, laughing,
"good, good." The boys take off without me,
compairing their successful strategies
from yesterday's climb. They do not even

look back as my hands clutch the rope
ladder and I sway side to side. I hug
the rough reality of the tree trunk, release
one clamp, secure it on the first tether.

"One at a time," I remind myself, and look
down even though I swore I wouldn't. Twenty
feet is far enough to believe in the power
of prayer. I mutter to myself. It doesn't help

that the boys are far ahead, shouting
encouragement. "Don't worry, the next one
is harder." By the second tightrope, my legs
tremble, sending the thin cable swinging.

My brain knows I will only fall the length
of my tethers, but my hands strangle
the overhead line. I stink of primal terror
and adrenaline. They did this yesterday

while I cheered them from below, steadying
the video camera to capture both boys
playing tarzan. They complete the course
while I cower on a platform, the distance ahead

matched by the distance behind, decide to turn
back would be slightly worse than pushing on.

ljcohen, 2005

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