The poem Grace began as a tribute to the adventurers who climb some of the highest mountain peaks on earth, jump from the summit in a wingsuit, and soar for sport. It is also a memorial to Dean Potter, world-class climber who fell to his death in May after jumping off a cliff in Yosemite, and other adventurers who have lost their lives doing what they love to do. It would be difficult to find people who are more alive and willing to take bigger risks than this community.
But as the poem evolved it begged for commentary about living life on the sidelines; willing to offer advice to others on how to live from the safety of comfortable surroundings. Granted, jumping from a cliff in Yosemite dressed in a wingsuit is the extreme, and the risk is death. But there is also a risk associated with never stepping outside your comfort zone–the risk of never seeing the way life could be.
Grace, some believe, is standing on a cliff,
3,000 feet above the valley floor,
peering down from above like God,
dressed in a wingsuit made of fabric
finer than a human hair,
then stepping off the ledge at Taft Point,
Yosemite sprawled below
slicing thin air at 125 mph,
free as a bird,
before splattering into a granite wall.
Hail Mary, full of Grace
repeat the mourners shaking their heads;
some sob, others wipe tears.
“So senseless,” they say, “so much to live for,”
while sipping herbal tea on an elevator shooting skyward,
where they step off and look out the window,
at black asphalt snaking through the urban canyon below,
then walk to the edge of a cubical, step in, strap on a headset,
and advise the despondent on how to live
from a crisis center on the 87th floor.
Grace appeared in the Moonstone Arts 2015 Anthology.