343 Readings

His Name Might Be Adam

We watch him fall because that is all
  we can do: Bear witness to an action
  that is unbearable.

He hasn’t been identified; all these
  years later they still don’t know which
  of the 3000 names is his.

But more than one family has claimed
  him, recognized in his fall something
  of their own.

With them, we watch him fall and we
  stand, still. Sometimes the only way
  out is in,

the only way down is up. I have known
  what it is to choose when life means
  death and death

means life. I have known what it is to
  choose the unspeakable because the
  alternative was unthinkable.

When Adam took his bite, it made no
  difference who held the apple to his lips.
  His teeth tore the flesh

and he tasted the last of the summer
  fruit that sprang from water-fed soil.
  He left us

craving the original skin, feeding
  instead on the metallic tang of
  a harvest

plucked from the blood-soaked earth,
  the iron alive and conniving upon
  our punished tongues.

And so, again, we watch him fall.
  And we fall too, all of us rising
  on moonbeams

for one scant second before concrete
  and flesh recombine as dust
  that settles

on twisted rebar and mirrors of
  splintered glass and the scattered seeds
  of earthly fruit.

Posted 09/09/21
Every September, friends and strangers post the Falling Man photo and it leaves me feeling conflicted. I read a story about the long attempt to identify him and the pain of the people who believe he might be their loved one. So I turn to archetype and metaphor. That is what we do when we cannot understand the world we inhabit and the people with whom we share it.
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