Vertigo


Trees fall. Ships sink.

Cornstalks bow, bend, flatten in the wind.

Buildings collapse, toppling their immense loads into the street.

Pyramids and totems lie forgotten amid the debris of their civilization.

Soldiers die face down in the mud.

So occupied was I with law’s gravity,  

I disregarded gravity’s great law, 

Never gave a minute's thought 

To what kept me standing, erect, and walking.


How something there is that makes things want to fall,

To slide away, lean, capsize, or flip

In the face of nature's forces, or a slip

Requiring mass, or anchor, to resist.


A root mass anchors mighty trees

A boulder holds a flag with ease

A castle rests upon a hill

The towers feet buried deeper still.

But men and moving things must be unanchored, free,

and freedom dictates balance.


A leaden keel allows a boat to dance,

While buoyant air gives whales and ships their chance. 

Deflected wind gives passage through the sky.

Something fine and subtle guides us as we run, and fly.


Something broke free, deep within my ears

Data rushed free but false around my mind

Stealing away breath, balance, confidence

Equilibrium deserts, hesitation freezes, blinds

Floors, stairs, pathways fall away

Like sand crumbling below your feet 

When the surf washes away your footing.


Hiding the fear, the bother, the strain 

Reaching out and out and out.

To nothing.

 

Handrails were merely ornamental 

When I walked 

Without a passing thought

For the miracle of walking.

 © Philip Knight 2018