This Is Falling

By Michael Mark

When you are fifty nine years old in six days

you don’t need to misstep off a curb

or trip over a piece of nothing

to lose your equilibrium.


You can tumble hard while sitting in your chair

on your extra cushion

in front of the local evening news

with your coffee cup sharing a plate dusty with

crumbs from the day-old cookies you bought today,

marked down.


They’re fresh to me! you said, and placed them

in the high protective area of the cart, away from the soap,

fiber cereal, and 2%.


The deal you made with yourself firmly stated that

you can have only two cookies each night.

You could have slowed down, paced yourself,

but you ate them both before the weather report.


So now, no cookie through two episodes of Raymond,

and no cookie during the toughest times not to have a cookie—

the commercials.


The even you can qualify for insurance commercials are just

intolerable without at least two bites.

As soon as that has-been actor starts selling

through those fake teeth, your fingers hunt

around the cup and under the plate for escaped pieces

of any size or taste—


a raisin, chocolate chip, or broken pecan—anything to

help endure his endless, Please, call now, my friends,

for your sake, please.


And there will be no reward cookie

after you get up and replace the extra cushion

back on the other chair,

or when you tie up the bag of cookies to be put away.

There will be no breaking off a piece by accident trick

this time.


You are watching you.


And no cookie when you wake for the bathroom

at 1:56 a.m. and think, This is the best time to have a cookie;

and then again at 3:32,

when no one else in the neighborhood

is having a cookie.


Then somewhere between 4:01 and light

you remain downstairs in your chair

waiting for the paper’s slap on the driveway

to start another day.


This is falling.


Michael Mark is the author of two books of fiction, Toba and At the Hands of a Thief (Atheneum). His poetry has been or is scheduled to be published in The New York TimesUPAYAAwakening Consciousness MagazineDead SnakesEmpty MirrorSleetOutside In and other nice places.

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