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Home | Episode #64
Too Big To Fall
October 15, 2020 | Student Producer:

Amulya Maddali
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Too Big To Fall
Lily Yates delivers a heartfelt slam poem about the uncertainty of growing up. (3 minutes)
Lily Yates

More Insight intro plays.

It smelled like green on zip-line day. That heady earthen scent of wet leaves baking slow in the sunlight, the human breeze exalted, it gently circling my neck, lifting those little curls on my temple that never quite seemed to grow any. The rest of my hair was matted sweat under the hollow helmet I knocked on. Sweat under the harness, straps tight against my hips, heart screaming out the message. Do you know? My safety rope is the only thing still tethering me to the woods beneath my tennis shoes, nothing but nothing. And to air below that, and I stepped. You have to start high. You have to breathe your trust in and out to make your feet move forward. The trust you breathe when you tell the boy with the brown speckled eyes, you, uh, maybe sort of uh, might have a crush on him as he sits at this sticky gray lunch table.

The trust that baby deer are born with under shelter of leaves, that we are born with under shelter of soft muslin blankets. You have to start high. Tiny hands gripping tiny hands. Crescent moon sliver fingernails, swaying, not quite in time up on that tall stage with a cardboard jungle backdrop. Nursery rhymes floating down to beaming parents in the folding chairs below. Glorious kid confidence streaming out with every wrong note, oblivious to performance reviews. Warmth, vibrating a body from inside and pitch your voice so it smacks the ceiling and gets lost in the roar of others. At summer camp, you have to start high. I stepped off the platform and flew, but in the forest inside me, I don't know when I fell. When I stopped inhaling trust and optimism. Roof smacking, yelling, and started coughing on fear on the toxic carbon dioxide of the pressing crowds all around me. I don't know when the assumption that people were beyond hope got into my bloodstream. At summer camp, I flew and I finally saw what a dragon fly sees. Iridescent wings, outstretched breadth of trees rushing past turning the wall of bark rushing toward me at the bottom of the curve. Inevitable, unmoving, final, terrible.

I wonder which birthday candle it was my breath blew out that extinguished the flying in me. Sometimes when I walk between the sky high high rises and the cracked concrete curbs, I catch some errant current, some soft bait, summer camped, warmth, green leaves before sewer gas and exhaust catch up with me. It reminds me what wide eyes and tight fingernails, and wind feel like. I looked down to my rubber soles, just for a moment, sprout feathers and look up.