Late, I rush down the stairs. Distraction, tiredness, hunger, an error in muscle-memory, whatever the cause, I miscalculate the steps. My foot dangles, leather-clad toes seeking, yearning for something not there. My tongue flies to the roof of my mouth. A lurch of the stomach, giddy panic at the sensation of plummeting, eerie milliseconds, then the jolt of impact as I land on concrete. Ears ringing, stunned and hurting, I get up, blinking stupidly, self-conscious even though I am alone. Brushing myself down, I wipe the tears, smooth down my hair. Check the time. Hobble away with a surge of adrenaline and continue my day of underground trains and office buildings, glimpses of sky, jostling and noise. I want to tell someone, but do not. Back home, I take painkillers and lower my stiff body into the bathtub. The bruises fade, but the relief that the fall was not as far as it could have been, that at least this time the ground was there to catch me, lingers.
Note from the series editor, Katie Dozier: “This poem encapsulates everything I love about the haibun form, through its interplay of the title, haiku, and prose. The sum of all three add up to even more than their parts, with the haiku hopping dramatically from the narrative of the poem, and I’ve never read a more accurate and captivating description of falling.”