It’s Real


I swim in tropical water and dive deeper,
deeper to explore encrusted tubeworms at the bottom
of the Marianas Trench,
                              then rise, kicking smoothly
through seven miles to the surface where I take my breath.

I walk through high Montana forest toward wildfire,
past antelope and badgers running the other way as they and I
are enveloped in hot swirling smoke,
                              dirty with cinder crumbs, some glowing,
then I stride through white-hot flame
                         into a black and gray world
over ashes that are hot, then warm, then cool,
and into a green meadow where I drink from a clear spring.

I lean over the low stone wall at Hermits Rest
                                         on the Grand Canyon’s rim,
                and a backwards-capped kid pushes me to tumble
through scrubby woods on the dense white layers
of Coconino sandstone,
                              and after four long seconds
                                             off the Redwall,
                                                            falling free,
I bounce across the sloping platform of the Tonto Plateau
               where thorny mesquite rips my skin until I plummet
                                             from the Precambrian edge and stop
                              on flat hard black rock
where I reassemble my splattered body and swim
down the icy blue Colorado until I find something to eat.


I lie back in my bed, put my right hand on the coarse, curly hair
and soft flesh of my warm chest, to feel the rigid
topography of my rib cage undulate
                                             with every breath;
                              press my left hand to my head and hear,
pulsing through tiny vessels in my ear’s thin sheet of a drum,
each fated rhythmic rush of heart-pushed blood.

John Nimmo