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November 24, 2019

To the Death of Immortality. {Poem 5}

*Editor’s Note: This piece is part of a series—lucky you. Head to the author’s profile to continue reading.


I sat on the edge of the roof, safe but frozen like an inept statue. What on Earth is going on with me?

My right foot touches the top ladder rung and the rest of me clings to burgundy shingles. Where did this sudden fear come from?

I take a deep breath in…and…out, thinking that it may be my last if I f*ck this up. Would my wife and kids still love me if I broke my back, unable to provide?

Time is passing and the temperature is dropping, so I need to do something soon. What the hell happened to that careless immortality I took for granted earlier in life?

My daughter jokes that I should fall towards the truck to break my fall. Ha-ha I pretend to laugh through clenched teeth. When did I lose my sense of humor and replace it with fear and anger?

Another deep breath in…and…out, as I creep in millimeter increments toward the top rung. How am I to get out of this situation? No stranger to climbing, I should feel no fear right now.

My concern expands to thoughts that the neighbors and passing cars can see my quandary. Who cares, shouldn’t they laugh at this clown stuck on his roof?

To Hell with their judgement I say – I’m not here to give anyone a show. Isn’t this my shadow revealed as self-judgment?

I’m not sure what broke the fear down to manageable chunks, but I started to move. Does this have to take so long? I’m not getting any younger here!

Phew! Two feet on the ladder. My sense of safety is secure again. So, do I quit or carry on?

I’m still breathing, so I finish the deed and pull dead maple seeds and leaves out of the gutter. A lifetime of conditioning invites me to ask if I’m a man if I can’t tend to my home?

Images of being laid up and incapable of the simplest tasks,

dancing through my mind.

Two daughters explaining how their Daddy

used to play games and carry them around.

Too sad for me to linger long on this broken fantasy.

A wife who carries a burden,

one she didn’t ask to bear.

Vexing scenarios can find their way into my mind all day if I wish to entertain them.

Nah, I’m all set with that.

Right now, there’s no truth other than the one where I’m now safely atop this ladder cleaning a gutter of some decomposing leaves. My worth as a man is not connected to the thoughts that I imagine but to the actions that I take no matter what my abilities are. I may be strong and healthy today, but only a fool believes that condition lasts more than a brief time for any man.

Today, I’m not that fool.

A change has happened, and a death did indeed occur.

I never fell, but my beloved sense of invincibility died on that roof. Will this mundane mortality follow me around for the rest of my days?

I want that invulnerability back, the kind I had when I climbed the tallest trees and leapt from the highest porches. Can I still be near forty and let the little boy in me take on the world?

I breathe in…and…out,

through the fear; through the sadness; through the anger;

and into the joy of a new life.

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