In the gaze of the other

"My mistress' eyes are nothing…"

Acrophobia–poem 14

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When FDR declared the nation had only fear to fear,

he never had a gun to his head,

Ballistaphobia

never had a cobra hood opened at his bare legs

Ophidiaphobia

or strolled past the body of a jumper from a Manhattan 32 story high rise,

Necrophobia

the thump of the fall nearly lifting my 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.

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