The One Who Never Falls

28 May 1991

Part 1:

You get caught up in walking the tracks,
As if the Earth was still until you walked
Straight up a track on a meridian--
Now the Earth starts to spin,
Pushed behind by your feet.
The more you focus on the rail,
The faster the world goes by,
Without peripheral vision.
You see one rusty rail,
An earth sized tread mill
And just the lateral railroad ties--
You've passed the equator again,
The ties are like huge balance beams
And you need one so you stretch
Your arms and suddenly you're carrying
It on your shoulders and your arms
Become nailed to either end and you are
Walking towards your crucifixion.
You look around and there are others
On the next track walking, trying
Not to fall as if falling would be the
End of the line and someone will
Shove you, railroad tie and all under
The rails to support trains. Every tie you pass
Is someone else who didn't make it.
Maybe cracks in the wood really are a
Language that says Hier Ruhe
Like old tombstone inscriptions in your
Town cemetery, and they say
This is where he gave up
So they shoved him under the rails
To hold the engines and boxcars.
So you walk on, wondering always
If the far off whistles are warnings
Of things to come. You start to feel
The creosote oil in your blood and
You wonder if maybe you should get off,
Put your ear down to the iron
And hear something far off.
You wonder why some stretches last miles
And then suddenly
A slip, you almost fall,
But twist and contort yourself
Wildly as if nothing is as important as regaining
Balance -

Part 2:

Once, after a close call, your body
Is a perfect curtsey;
Left knee bent, right leg extended back
And to the left, your back bent and head looking
Up to an imaginary lady who is pleased
To meet you and she applauds and so does
The crowd and certain others wipe away your sweat--
You are infallible after this,
The One Who Never Falls.
Save yourself, the others say, if you're
So great. But you don't;
Because nothing is so important
As finishing,
To keep on walking,
To keep the world in motion.

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