Hand Over Hand

He tied his boat off and

Started to climb the cliffs
In another life he would have gone to the office
Neatly patterned in communion with the others
Grey suit and blue stripe tie
Each piece succinctly chosen

Rarely looking back
And never giving up
In the ash that settled from the falling sky
No one foresaw his unfolding

Foot first, then hand over hand
In the crisp air and the silence of the still water
Reverently he climbed
Each move perfectly planned, neatly patterned

Taking breath, not of ash settling from the crumbling building,
A breath of humid air, clean of man.
Blinded by the same sun that
Lit the day when the crumbling buildings
Ended the impregnable asylum of safety

Counting each hand over hand,
Another foothold
Taking breath
Catching the light
Hurrying no more

Bathed in his own sweat
And not the drops from
The chin of
The man whose
Each hand over hand, each foothold
Reached out
Ending the inevitability of his
Author’s Note:

Tonight at Wednesday Afternoon Writers, Niki supplied our prompt. Starting with an amazing photo of an island rising out blue water.  It was a solid mass rising into the sky and capped by a frothy cloud, much like a hat.  She added the opening line, “He tied his boat off and started to climb the cliffs…”  Then we were given these following words to incorporate: singe, rain, fire, table, catch, battered.

This image and prompt put me into an arena in which I was not comfortable. When that happens I never go to writing a story, a poem is comfort for me. To challenge myself a bit, I decided that instead of incorporating the words into the poem, I would simply write them down the side and use the letter of each word as the first letter in each line of the poem.

Rather quickly an image formed and I found myself writing on a topic that really is something I have not approached. I realized that my poem enveloped a man of the 911 tragedy.

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