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When Yes Is the Highest Jumping Off Point

It was like the poet’s drunk sailor catching tigers in red weather *
a man jumping from a 16-foot fence at
the Bronx zoo into a tiger’s den and how some
distances can’t be measured there are no instruments-----
                                              once in a ballet class

the teacher asked us to turn away from a partner and
fall backward into the believe he’ll catch us
the distance grew with every second like a monstrous plant
became more dangerous and like that night
I said yes to him, kept telling myself to jump
not think about what lies at the bottom of yes and
one other time never said the word but held my breath on it and
and fell right through….

my cat lies on my stomach purring in time to my pulse
when he spots a bug across the room, and abruptly jumps off
or it’s such a beautiful perfect weather day
lying on some grassy place, and I catch myself falling
into the sky, become the whole day before it turns
an about face and there’s that relentless tiger
luring me into red weather to try and catch him again

the man who said he wasn’t trying to commit suicide but be one with the tiger
was called crazy and lucky to have survived with only
a few broken bones and puncture wounds

survival is often just a matter of degrees


*The reference is to “Disillusionment of Ten O’clock” by Wallace Stevens

  Linda Lerner