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Saturday, June 22, 2013


by David Chorlton

(Reuters) - When daredevil Nik Wallenda caught sight of the taut cable stretched over the yawning chasm of the Grand Canyon for the first time on Friday, his reaction ahead of his death-defying high-wire crossing on Sunday was pure glee. 

                                    . . . and gravity
            Gets every one of us eventually; what matters
            Is the beauty we can do, our balance
            Before we meet the ground.

                        ("Once, We Were the Wallendas" by Don Haynie)

You can walk on air
or a two-inch wire spanned across the heat
to show the land beneath you
perfect balance.
                        From one red rim
to the other in the company of ravens
with concentration for a safety net
and a view that cuts into the earth
is a straight line that sags a little
where you tread.
                        The canyon walls
watch every step. The river below
dashes itself against rocks,
gathers itself together and asks
whether you can do that.
                                    All that holds you
is a cloven-footed pact with the forces
of chance as you lick
the taste of falling from your lips
and become the centre
of attention.
                 The crossing takes years
while the seasons rotate around you
through forest fire to ice
with everyone wanting to know
if the other side
                        will still be there
when you reach it.

David Chorlton has lived in Phoenix since 1978, and still sees his surroundings with an outsider's eye. This helps his writing projects, which include a new poetry collection,"The Devil's Sonata," from FutureCycle Press.