Way Back

we clambered down from the trees,
and stood upright,
peering over the horizon
with eyes like ripening apples,
grasping a pathetic rock,
searching for the panther
endlessly circling.

That was not long ago
in time measured by stone
but long enough for us to resolve,
never to return to the trees
and never to let slip that rock
from our grasp.

I lifted her onto my shoulders
“Horsey!” she cried.
“Horsey! Go fast!”
Erect on the Cantabrigian street
I leapt
under the clamoring burden.


As we loped along,
falling between each step,
my back, suited more
to a life horizontal,
like a branch overburdened,
began to crack.

And one day,
I cannot get up.
Recumbent on the couch,
numbed by Vicodin
and Neurontin and vodka,
I grasp that little orange bottle
She closes the door when she leaves.

We trade the bite of the panther
for a certain, sharp, pain
accepted on coming and going,
made less acute
by the view over the treetops
from the fourth floor.


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