To build machines that walk,
they studied human movement
at MIT. Our progress isn’t graceful:
to walk, we must let go,
lean forward, fall into gravity.
A foot pivots outward to catch the ground
before the rest of the body tumbles.
Lean, pivot, catch; lean, pivot, catch;
lurching into the future, trusting the sole
to land between the face and the dirt,
to dodge the grabbing root, the stumbling stone.
Falling up the hill, I leaned,
an aggressive angle to the ground,
mustering energy to escape
the backward pull, thinking you
were right beside me. Like when
we watched that science show
on our bedroom television.
Above the summit, two red-tailed hawks
gliding in wide circles
marked the paths of our failures.
Headlong down the other side,
soles missing contact with earth,
I grasped at dead air, cried out.
At mountain’s base, I thought
I must watch that program
again, in case I missed the answer
the first time. I need
to understand, when I lost
control of the falling,
why you didn’t catch me.
Photo by Mike Chaput