266. The Leap

The ten yards
From the fence–
For Tom had reached the end–
The ten yards to the house
Would be the hardest. He
Stood wavering, arms
Wrapped around a post.
Eyes welded shut by wind,
Closed in by darkness,
His mind raced.

Can’t see the house.
Can’t see the path, the porch.
Hell, nor this fencepost!
Think, now. Think.
This fence lays straight back
East. I feel the wire now,
The post. My body’s so.
So if I turn,
I must face north.
So as I face it,
Where’s wind strike?
Head on–
Dead square on.
No, that ain’t right.
Damn. Think!
It’s angling,
From the left, a tad.
Northwest. Of course.
So where’s it hit?
I mean: exact.
If I don’t reach that porch,
I’ll make tracks in the yard,
The next eight hours. Or
Worse, fall….
Put my finger there,
The eyebrow. Wind strikes
There, I’m facing north.
So hold it steady.
Shove off.

He moved cautious,
Keeping wind’s edge
Angled to his face,
And inched due north.
The racket in his ears
Wrenched time:
How many seconds, now,
He’d left the fence?
Too blurred to tell–
Arms waving,
He lurched wide
To keep his balance.
Throwing all his body
In hard toward the blast,
He stretched out hands,
For if he ever
He counted steps.
He guessed–

Thomas tripped.
He stumbled to his knees,
And lost his north–
He scrambled, climbing
On all fours.
Home! He ran his
Fingers up the door.

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