Controlled Falling

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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

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About Author

Rachel Unkefer's work has appeared in Crab Orchard Review, the anthology "Shaking Intensified," Prime Number Magazine, and elsewhere. Her unpublished novel A Useful Life was a semifinalist in the Faulkner-Wisdom competition and she has been awarded residencies by VCCA and Writers in the Heartland. She is president and a founding member of WriterHouse, a non-profit writing community in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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