The Second Fall of Man is in the Quotidian

The Second Fall of Man is in the Quotidian



Which one is worse? They all

make me dizzy: getting up quick,

too many of those beta blockers I took

for my hypertension, or fasting

too long too much,

to lose some of that weight I’ve been

putting on, or even this glass of wine

after my wife said I ought to stop.


So here I am

at the top of the stairs.

Just take a step, I say,

just don’t look down.

It’s like the parapet of that tower

in the movie Vertigo. You look,

you wonder:

how long it would take to reach the ground?

Then again, at the Pyramid of the Sun

in Teotihuacan, watching kids

playing tag on the irregularly irregular steps,

me at the peak, trying to look up at the clouds,

never at the more sensible tourists looking up from below;

then creeping down at a crawl,

like some insect in a state of shock,

wishing there were some kind of a rail,

maybe a white cane, a helping hand

from some almighty god, or one of those kids.


But when you climb to the top of a mountain,

do you think, instead of “Oh Joy!”, of the crazy stupid

impulse that got you to come?

Who does not remember those apocryphal tales: the racer

who stumbles within reach of the finish line, that messenger

of the gods who, delivering some momentous proclamation,

leaps from his horse, only to land on his ass.

Still, off in the distance is Matsu Picchu, is Shangri La,

Is the priceless porcelain pot at the end of the rainbow;

and who has not aspired to these formidable consummations?