Our Vulnerability

When I step into the street I imagine
what it would be like if a car
swerved off its path and hit me
like a million headlights crashing. Would I hear
through clanging of sirens
the prayer I have been making all my life
that what tenderness I have known
and the beauty I witnessed every day will save me.
Some days I feel as if a couch or kitchen sink fell on me
and on others I want to slit my wrists
and let the blood spurt onto the sheets and carpet
until an ambulance picks me up and I say
I’m dying for something I can never have
and the only reason I don’t do this is because
I’m terrified of pain and not one
to draw that kind of attention to myself.
Like the college senior who jumped off
the Empire State Building: we were all
mystified as to why no one knew what he was about to do,
but when I stood in the shadow of the building
on the pavement where he fell I thought
Jesus, what a way to make a statement.
All the people walking below, all the tourists gawking,
waiting to ride that interminable elevator
moments before his body came flying towards the ground,
arms outstretched like a superhero,
like one escaping a burning building.
He knew he would make the New York Times that day.
We are each of us a falling skyscraper,
a homeless man or woman searching
for a bridge or an awning, without belongings,
invisible behind the colliding within.
And what is there to save us except gravity,
the ground that holds us up
no matter how far we fall.


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