Pas de Deux on the High Wire

Photo credit: dadcentric.com

For Chelsea and Maz, whose wedding last weekend prompted me to dust this off.
And for Patti.

Pas de Deux on the High Wire
by John Unger Zussman

One Saturday, in our twenties,
We put up the tightrope.
Eyed it warily.  No sweat,
We reassured each other.
Piece of cake.

At first, we could barely manage
A few quick steps on the rope,
Stretched taut, inches off the floor.
We’d push out tentatively,
Teeter, recover, flail, step off.
Laugh nervously, try again.

No instructor, no mentor,
Just the trying, and ourselves.
Slowly we learned to center our balance,
Arms extended, touching lightly for support.
The posts grew higher, year by year,
And our moves more intricate.
We took tumbles, gathered bruises.
When one wavers, the rope jiggles,
Endangering the other.
Once I toppled from eight feet.
She came too. It took years
To recover.  The scars
Remind us how we learned.

Now we run, hand in hand, from peak to peak,
Skyscraper to skyscraper, triple pirouette,
Grand jeté, entrechat huit. I partner her
In a deep penché, the tip of her pointe shoes
Balanced on the narrow wire. It is exhilarating
And marvelous. We are confident until,
In middle age, we look down. Then we seem
Unbelievably, foolishly precarious.

Just us two. No children, families distant,
A few friends gazing up from below.
We are working without a net. It is glorious,
Yet there is always the premonition
Of the inevitable gust of wind.

About John Unger Zussman

John Unger Zussman is an award-winning screenwriter, creative writer, and technical writer from Portola Valley, California. His essays have been published in The Sun Magazine. He has won a Grammy Award (as a member of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus), but there’s room on the shelf for an Oscar and a Pulitzer. John also works as a corporate storyteller in info and biotech and holds a PhD in Psychology from Stanford University.
This entry was posted in John Unger Zussman and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s