The Fall





When the clouds broke, when the clouds

Truly tore apart: that was the moment

We realized, at last, that the sky

Was above us after all. Nothing

Makes you more aware of the

Vastness above you than the sudden

And entire collapse of it,

Its iron clang, the ferocity,

Its uncompromising reign from

One horizon to the next

Now bereft in the throes of war.

The sky, falling upon you, heavier than lead.

When the clouds broke, it was heaven

Breaking. It was the law

Of nature, just breaking. The taste

Of metal was water on the tongue,

The earth began to smell of it too, damp

And slick and under siege,

A cry was heard, the rain was a crowd

Jostling and jeering all around us;

You couldn’t move for it. As the clouds broke,

It was suffocating: the air was contaminated.

It invaded our lungs, coats, sodden shoes;

The cold clung to us. As it tore apart,

We sought shelter for ourselves, looking on

In abject homelessness; and

Our idle understanding that the sky

Would always be up there, benign like some

Passive, laissez-faire and absent God:

That too was broken.



I’m often asked to write with less reliance on structures and meters. So I decided to translate that to the subject matter in this poem, too: the moment in life when, all at once, something you have taken for granted is torn apart above your very head. 



One thought on “The Fall

  1. Dear James This is such a moving and exciting and scarey poem, an ‘after the storm moment’. Sounds more exhilarating than threatening, thoroughly embedded in its imagery. I really likeit, and the sound of it, and the way it gives me thoughts and connections, like the sky overhead this morning. Have read it aloud several times this morning. Must always find time for the sky. X Gran Sent from my iPad


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