Vertigo begins in the groin:
which is why space carries on below us
in empty strides, we the umbilical
astronauts tumbling up in blue.
From the bottom of the gorge, a thin roar
of falling water tempts us with the knowledge
you can fall only once.
The fence resists temptation: it’s a scar
of woven metal. Some birds descant
from open beaks above the plunging silence.
The trees are tentative, leaking wind:
I remember balancing on the edge
of puberty and thinking, the future sprouts
from scars like these. A mirror
flings a present at the future.
Something as rare as forgiveness in scrabble
happens from time to time: twenty, thirty
years ago a dog fell down this gorge
and survived with only a broken leg.
I think about survival, like the chartreuse-
coloured lichen on the northern side of tree trunks:
I’d thought myself immune to the sublime
having bounced off a tightrope once and survived.
from Open Water (River Road Press, 2007), ? David Musgrave 2007, used by permission of the author and River Road Press