When FDR declared the nation had only fear to fear,
He never had a gun to his head,
never had a cobra hood opened at his bare legs
or strolled past the body of a jumper from a Manhattan 32 story high rise,
the thump of the fall nearly lifting his feet off the ground.
But it wasn’t then that acrophobia hit.
No, it was the carefree days of carnivals and Ferris wheels,
free from regulations and safety straps, not even for seats
that turned upside down with the slow-turning wheel.
I was five and my car mates were nine and ten, measurably
larger, taller than I so that the metal bar kept them in as
the wheel spun us upside down and then right side up,
me clutching with all my strength to keep myself inside.
Thanatophobia. I had never heard the word in my five years,
but I lived my way through it many times since, perched on a ledge peering down thirty floors into a postage stamp courtyard, pondering the weighty sum of a life’s body at its impact against the immovable.