Dogs 2007

FALLING FAST
(9/24/07)


after
enjoying
the view
at the top
I took in
one last breath
of altitude
before carefully
starting
down

I came in late
so sat toward
the back
then I saw all
that familiar hair
sitting there
toward the podium
and as I settled
she turned
smiled
and patted
the empty chair
next to her

not
a real climber
the slope was still
greater
than 45 degrees
and I did more sliding
than actual
stepping
feeling my first fear
seeing the full slope
of a couple
thousand feet
in front
of me

I walked
quietly
toward her
and she put
her hand
on my leg
as I sat
leaning into me
to whisper
hello
the speaker
already underway
but all I saw
was her smile
at my amazement
her perfume
making me
a bit dizzy
and a bit
ill

soon
I was up
off my ass
taking giant strides
down the mountain
gaining exhilaration
with acceleration
and also
feeling the relief
of a decline
slanting more
toward the
horizontal

she
bumped my leg
with hers
when she heard something
of significance
looking at me
with raised eyebrows
in that conspiratorial way
she had shared
years ago
when we were
still together

I felt
so fucking alive
leaping from one boulder
to the next
feeling such control
and dexterous ability
seeing hundreds of feet
ahead and below
planning
my next dozen footfalls
with incomparable ease
feeling at one
with the mountain

she pressed
against me
to quietly say
she had hoped
to see me there
and while not a kiss
drug her lips
away from my ear
across cheek
and neck
as she returned
to a vertical
position
and I almost
told her that
I loved her
still

then
my forward momentum
began taking
my shoulders
ahead of my hips
and I knew
that I might only
have one more chance
to plant a foot
and correct
my overcommitment

the meeting done
we hugged
and as she turned
to talk to another
I heard my name called
and crossed the room
toward the request
to be handed
a full bag
of garbage
in need
of disposal

but
it was too late
already in free fall
I was allowed
only a minor
trajectory correcting
toehold
aiming away
from the next large stone
toward a nearing patch
of lichen
and gravel

I touched
her shoulder in passing
saying that
I would be back
in a moment
then left
through the rear exit
with the cumbersome
load

I braced
for impact
but I need not
have bothered
hitting lightly
in between rocks
and sliding about
twenty yards
to an easy stop
losing only
a bit of skin
from palms
and wrists

the plastic
strained
to the limit
I reached the dumpster
in a dash
starting the swing
of the bundle
with one hand
while opening the lid
with the other
just as the bag burst
dumping a wet
soggy mess
of trash
all over my jeans
and shoes

the dust settled
and I let out
a large sigh
then it started
a deep
beyond belief
bottomless lagoon
of laughter
bouncing back
to me
from the cliffs
above and behind
no one for miles
to witness
my pratfall

I exhaled
for the first time
since my arrival
barely suppressing
an audible guffaw
of realizational disbelief
hopefully avoiding earshot
of the departing
crowd

I was off
the hook
this time
the only thing
left to do
was to go home
clean up
and pocket
my lesson
for the next
predicament

some adventures
should not
be repeated
unless
the previous wounds
have healed