Fear of Falling


Fear of Falling

Fifty years ago, my sister and I raced across a long, high porch;
jumped off the end to fly across daffodils and old barking dogs.

That was before my sister fell.
She sprained her arm on harder ground.
Afterward, I would run across the porch,
leap into abandon, arms open to sky.

My sister would run to the edge,
brake a full stop, sit down, and cry.
I never understood her fear of jumping,
or the tears she shed for what was lost.

I spent a lifetime long jumping from one thrill to the next, fearless.
Then, one day I took the highest leap, for love. Now I understand.

Shirley Alexander


Filed under life, love, poetry

29 responses to “Fear of Falling

  1. I had some problems with fonts on this post. The long lines do not lend themselves to most styles, but I wanted them long for effect–long jump.

    Thanks for reading.


  2. Nice work, Shirley, I am assuming this is the sort of poetry you are shooting for in the up and coming publication (can’t think of its name). If so, I understand the sense your poems will take. Life and its joys and sadness, I read this kind of sensitive salt-of-the-earth poetry and I cringe because I have tried, but have never mastered it to any degree. I like this because of the awareness which comes at the end of the lines, not with a sudden slap of awareness, rather a subtle knowing instead.

    • Jerry, I know I have a knack for getting overly sentimental. Thank you for being kind enough not to say that. *smile*

      I wrote this in my head last night after I went to bed, got up about 1 a.m., jotted down a few lines to help me remember, and finished it this morning. I had not considered putting it in my book for the contest. The book is a different mood altogether. I really like what you said about the end. That is what I was going for. Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

      Take care.

      • You are welcomed. Even though I’m not Irish and you don’t value mine and other people’s comments as much.

      • Oh dear. This is what happens when I hurry through comments. I was afraid of being late to get Dude to his appt. I fixed it. Thanks. My brain is not making full use of the coffee today. Of course, any opinion on my poetry is important to me.

  3. belfastdavid

    Beautiful, arresting poem Shirley

    But very sad.

    And I wonder if it has to be true.

    Much Love


    • Thank you, Irish. Your opinion is one of a few I always value most. There is a little truth in everything we write–sometimes more than a little.

      Much love to you,

  4. Purple Paul

    I’d agree with David. Great poem artistically, but more than a little sad too.

    • Thank you, Paul. I know you don’t like to read sad poems, so I appreciate that you stuck it out to the end. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ll post a happy one next time. Just been in a mood lately, but some good news today, so mood has lightened a bit.


      • Purple Paul

        I am certainly not against sad poems. But the ending certainly leaves one with a sense of a life curtailed.

      • I should have said that I know “most people” don’t like to read sad poems. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to say just “you”. I was in a hurry, and being Southern, my you is a lot of times meant as y’all. Yes, it does give a sense of curtailment. That is how I felt when I wrote it, and I was honest about my feelings. The good thing about life, like poetry, is that there is always another reading.

  5. I read and enjoyed your inspired poem. Best of everything with publication.

    • Jerry, you are so nice to come over and comment. Thank you. I’m going to stay up a little later tonight and catch up on some of my reading because I’ll be away for the weekend. I’ll be over to your blog as soon as I get back from taking Richard down to play shuffleboard.



  7. Jim Turner

    That’s the hardest fall of all. The other kind break only your bones.

    • This is true, Jim. I have had both breaks, and I will take the broken bones over the other any day. Thank you for coming here to comment. It means a lot to me.


  8. This poem made me stop like your sister on the porch. Very impacting and powerful in your sentiments Shirley.
    Despite the sadness this is a very beautiful poem. I really love the transition of innocence to a greater awareness. The flow of emotion and memory is subtle, it gently carries you along to the bracing end. Well it’s bracing for my anyway.
    I can’t help but be left feeling similar to David. That does it have to be so. Some fears can conquered and others hmmm I suppose where trust in another is lost as well it can be so much more difficult…
    Thankyou for sharing this. This left me thinking and feeling one of the elements of your poetry I love the most.

    Take care.

    • Thank you for such a lovely comment. You read with a kind heart, Tikarma.

      I feel very much like Kathy on that porch sometimes, braking, going back to the end, running again, braking again. Still, I keep making the effort. Yes, a loss of trust can make you wary, and not just toward the person who broke that trust. It is something easily associated with a situation, long after the personal images are gone. Allowing yourself to jump again is usually worth the risk. You can at least say you have some wonderful memories. Memories though, make a poor parachute. *grin*

      I am going away for a few days. Leaving Thursday night or Friday morning, depending on how much I get done here tomorrow. I hope you and Jamie have a lovely weekend, and I will be in touch when I return.

      (((BIG HUGS)))

  9. Doris Emmett

    Shirley…I understand this poem so well…it only takes one time to in still
    the fear of …falling. Wonderful write.

  10. Peter Doyle

    Well drawn picture here… more than a little wisdom Shirley. : )

  11. I enjoyed reading it, Shirley. I love the directness with which you tell this story.

    • Thank you so much, Rosemary. It’s really nice to see you here.

      My muse has kept me busy lately. I was awakened again last night, and had to get up and write everything down before the muse would allow me sleep! She sings when she whispers. *wink* But then, those are the good ones. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. fresh air alike piece,
    you make a lovely stir in the blogging atmosphere.
    well done!

  13. http://jingleyanqiu.wordpress.com/2010/09/22/thursday-poets-rally-week-29-sept-23-29/

    hello, friend:

    I invite you to Attend Thursday Poets Rally Week 29, linking in a poem by commenting,

    Happy Saturday!

    love to see your work exposed to wider audience.

  14. Thank you. I am grateful for your interest. I might do that. ๐Ÿ™‚