Tight-Rope Walker

by Jefferine Li
Issue: Ricercari (Summer 2012)

silent silhouettes sketch
the unceasing rain,
laughter decolorized and
smiles bleached,
gold nothing but a withered mirage.
stiff feet walk the tightrope,
a wrong step, a plummeting ticket straight to the void,
trepidation at its apex.
the rusty, motionless watch,
the minute hand resolutely north,
the hour hand south,
again and again,
six o’ clock.
six o’ clock.

but it lies like a crystalline blanket, the snow,
bright flowers waltzing above the rooftops
a pure and innocent white,
its indifference to the black world
stems strength within,
paints gray with interlacing gold.
sky’s omnipotence quenches the parched feet—
the ointment of pure water.

the girl lifts her ashen irises,
captivated by the immortal white as
she traces its pattern,
the magic blossoming from its generous petals,
disseminating power upon charcoal souls,
step by step,
touching and departing,
touching and departing—
the pole strengthening black and white,
calming the pumping creature within,
milky whites seek the stars that
bolster the anxious heart,
running on feeble string.

wisps of the past blow their scents
upon frigid hearts:
the flickering aureate glow of a baby firefly,
off and on,
on and off,

swaying hesitantly to the rhythm of the wind,
to the shaky steps of a toddler,
yet stronger by the second.

the light—it’s near,
only a heartbeat away,
only a heartbeat away.