Tuesday, May 17, 2011

This Life

This Life

My friend tells me
a man in my house jumped off the roof
the roof is the eighth floor of this building
the roof door was locked how did he manage?
his girlfriend had said goodbye I'm leaving
he was 22
his mother and father were hurrying
at that very moment
from upstate to help him move out of Brooklyn
they had heard about the girl

the people who usually look up
and call jump jump did not see him
the life savers who creep around the back staircases
and reach the roof's edge just in time
never got their chance he meant it he wanted
only one person to know

did he imagine that she would grieve
all her young life away tell everyone
this boy I kind of lived with last year
he died on account of me

my friend was not interested he said you're always
inventing stuff what I want to know how could he throw
his life away how do these guys do it
just like that and here I am fighting this
ferocious insane vindictive virus day and
night day and night and for what? for only
one thing this life this life

Grace Paley


  1. Off the top of the Prince Lucien Campbell Building. I was waiting to catch th 73 Bus about 100 meters away. I did see him until idiots yelled jump. He stepped back and I thought he changed his mind. He stepped back, but only so he could get some steps to clear the building.

    I don't think anybody that saw it, and heard it will be able to forget it.

    I don't think fighting a virus would be easy either

  2. Hello Who, is this the end of the poem ?
    I found it as I posted it...is it an end of your own ?

  3. No, it's not my poem, but six or seven years ago, I was waiting for a bus in between 13th and 14th Street on Kincaid. And then he jumped. It's hard to explain accidental death to people if they have only seen it in movies.

    It's not the same.

    if that had been on a screen, when he collided with the ground, your body winces.

    if you are there and it happens, there are two winces. Your body is the slower of the two. Your soul leaps back first, a quick one-two. When your soul jumps, the ghost takes your breathe with it and then your body get's the signal from your brain a split second later. Like your soul is attached to your heart with a fist clinched around it and an arm like a rubber band. Feels like your soul would leave if it could, but get's snapped back. It numbing and takes quite a while for it to get completely interwoven again.

    and then every way you witnessed it, to see it in the theater, it's almost real again. But luckily it's only like that for the ways you've been exposed.

  4. so : this life, this life...that's what keeps our soul about us - one day we will let it go, join the flux...
    (some stuff just sticks with us : a sound, a smell...even the absence of a step can move us and make us tremble inside)