Stress, by Adele Ward
Some people have a fear of falling upwards
when they raise their eyes to the top of a tower block.
They feel their feet might leave the ground,
as if gravity could release them
to fall through clouds and vanish,
just because they look up.
They are afraid to glance.
The high wire walker knows gravity
from the rooftops, joins high rises
in a dot-to-dot, makes it look easy,
as the wind fills his ears like a plane on take-off.
The only way is to slide each footstep forwards
in his own ballet, tasting the blood metallic
rust of the wire, believing it
to be just one metre off the ground, like the one
at home, where he has fallen many times.
The concrete of the blocks tells him
the fall will not be through the clouds,
but down, hard, and ugly,
as the windows spool past, a movie reel fast forward,
with all his admirers watching.
This poem was inspired by the film High Wire by the artist Catherine Yass, featuring Didier Pasquette, shown above.
Adele Ward lives in London, where she works as a writer and editor. She's the co-owner of Ward Wood Publishing and is currently doing a PhD in creative writing at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her poetry has been published in a debut collection called Never-Never Land.
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