local_library The Still in the Fall

by Ariel Basom

Published in Issue No. 262 ~ March, 2019

A Picture in a Thousand Words

A red streak bolts against the sky;

the falcon erupts with the wind.

Her body rises in unparalleled grace

in a blast of fury.


The water falls,

the river blushes,

swallowed by the persistence of this moment;

pristine in a silver-magic wash.


Sun glows so still

and still, the falcon rises over the falls.


The torrents pour for us and yet so still

so still it reminds us of ourselves

and yet forgets us, leaves us behind.


The falcon flies over the falls.


The mountains sublime, majestic,

volcanic, cause contrast of shadow

to the river that falls.


But the bird denies the stream

and she rises, aloft on the breeze.


And we can see the waterfall.

The rocks are moist and cracked,

eroded from years of falls,

demure and solidly punished

and the river goes its gentle way by force

while the mountains stand in line, await their turn.


This gorge has been covered in ash

though the dust washed away under the pressure of time,

the path was forged by the ushering of gravity.


And we without wings must scramble to rise.


But what of the bird

and that moment on the wind?

She swoops and glides;

she rides the air.


Darkness creeps from the caves

and spies from the shadow

allowing itself to be seen for the moment.


Clouds drift high above

and threaten to shutter the light.


And the bird?

She watches us in kind.

She catches the gust and floats on high,

blocks the sun,

and it is then the shutter closes—

the silhouette, the eclipse, the glow.


And you hold the camera with unparalleled grace.

This moment is alive, worth saving, and the falcon hits her peak.


The shutter snaps as she twists on the breeze,

cracks at the top of her flight,

ready to swoop and to dive

and the fall is remarkable.


She falls and I say, “Listen, that falcon is about to cry.”

And we are still as the falcon makes her call.


The river flows in massive droves.

The water falls around me, wets my hair, washes my eyes.

The waterfall is about us, and the bird?

Aloft on the wind, she spies us as she calls.


Brightness coddles drops of water that sparkle and flow.

Darkness obscures the depths of what is below.


The shutter is still.

The mountains are still.

The river is still.

The falcon luminous peaks,

and she is true as she spreads her crimson wings

to caress the wind.


The contrast is clear.

The mountains and the sky

are touched by the river’s silver-magic glow.


I gasp for breath, am astounded

as the falcon flies over the falls.


The falcon sits on the wind.

We see her frame, chiaroscuro in front of the sun,

a shadow on the breeze.


The exposure unravels invulnerable in turns;

the waterfall rips through rock and in this wicked world the river renews.

Zephyrus blows and makes us vulnerable to fall,

and in the moment before the call?

Still, we fall.


The river is kind as it settles;

the rush no longer in vain.

The pool that whirls until it is calm again.


You pull the camera away from your eye.

The captured bird now watches from beyond,

exclaims that she can be trusted with the truth,

and the leaves shudder from the weight of her.


I focus through the haze and

can wink, can smile.


Surrounded by whispers

the falls are exquisite.

They spin and dive,

free for a while

like that crimson bird that fell as she called

the water on us is unmistakable and warm.


In long inhales my lungs fill up with you

and moist, these lips are rocks.


For never was there snapped a more perfect moment.

We are sprayed anew as the wind carries us

and I, like Venus, fall for you

for you hear with clarity the call.


The falcon knows what she does to us.

We warp and twist like the bird

and a fish can jump twenty feet in the air.


The moon, not seen here, is waiting.

It lights our way through the dark;

it rises and falls.

I breathe and gasp:

you fall;

I fall.


And this moment is immortal.

The falcon rises over the falls.

We are held together with silence;

wrapped around the rocks we are exposed.


The falcon shouts at us, “Behold!”

She shouts as she falls,

she shouts at us and still

she rises over the falls.


Even now, the picture hanging on the wall,

the mountains stand around, composed,

still, evoke the memory of the fall.

Under glass, the falcon calls.


I remark, “The light seems to find the falcon

yet does not leave it luminous.

The river is much brighter than the trees,

but the bird, she blocks out the sun.”


This makes you smile, as I rush, as I fall.

You say, “Look at the highlight of the red here

where the sun touches the bird for just an instant.

A moment later and the sun would have blinded the camera,

a second sooner and the falcon was not there.”


I laugh as after all these years

I never noticed that the shutter had collapsed at the perfect moment,

the shudder that still resonates today, and still we fall.


The photograph warms my eyes and they are wet again.

The river fits, it falls.

The bird watches and speaks,

“Look at the rocks, they glisten.”

And we listen.


There on the wind a falcon flies.

It watches us and calls us as it sees

and hears the waterfall.

It sweeps away at us,

it creeps its way toward us.

It has its way.


The water falls.

It wets our faces and our clothes.

It keeps us still,

it swishes and it goes.


Ripped shirts and cold rocks,

the river rides and in whirls it splashes.

The water dances on us in spirals and it falls.

The water falls on us and grasps.

The water falls on us and gasps.


And still, we fall.

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Ariel Basom lives in Seattle, Washington. His portfolio contains over a hundred poems, half a dozen short stories, a growing collection of microfiction, and a few novels in the works. He has an MFA in creative writing from Goddard College.