Poems & Essays

09 Apr

The Cornice

General/Column No Response

We thought we were far enough
from the edge of the snow-covered ridge
that hovered above a glacier-carved ravine,
yet when Annica tripped on her shoelace,
we gasped until she was on her feet again.
We had entered this high point riddled with caution signs,
chose to walk along this finger pointing to an imminent death,
even paused to eat our lunch perched atop its severity,
haunted by ghostly implications inhaled as cold mountain breaths.
I feared the sound of snow cracking beneath my feet,
the beginning of a fall, my stomach lodged in my throat,
gravity pulling the rest of my body down,
these two parts of me a rubber band
stretched to its breaking point.
I feared the awareness of death
that would surface
in such a moment.

I find myself again at the abyss,
this time on a cornice of my own making.
This is a fall that will begin when she is born and last my entire life.
People tell me about their own plunges, what they found below, how they felt.
I can’t know this expanse from looking over its edge,
not who she is, how I’ll feel, what our connection will be.
I only know this gravity will take me somewhere deep.
I’ve come to this cliff precisely
for this unknown.

How rarely in life I’ve created my own precipice,
walked past the caution signs, stepped onto the edge
not by accident, but excited by a vastness I can never contain,
nervous for the fall, for all is unknown.
Yet here I am leaning
toward mine.


Caroline N. Simpson’s poetry and essays have been published in Barcelona- and US-based literary magazines. She has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, both in poetry and nonfiction. In 2013, a collection of her poetry won Honorable Mention in Hot Street’s Emerging Writers Contest, and in 2014, her play, “The Asymmetrical Embrace,” enjoyed a staged reading at Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA.

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