What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?

—online psychology questionnaire

Young misfortunes won’t sustain the narrative
of history. The why of it doesn’t matter,
just the waking up with clothes torn,
blood drying like heavy paint on legs, palms,
plus smells of wine & vomit thick as dread
in the dormitory room. Reasons are, yes,
meaningless: something lost to a man
still boy enough to believe in possession.
Broken, I spent that morning watching out a window
as the ROTC cadets rappelled three stories
down Gullickson Hall. I heard them
ask for volunteers at the same moment
one of the dorm’s staff counselors,
remembering more from my prior night than I,
placed a cool hand on my shoulder & said,
“Are you all right?” I told her, “I’m thinking
about jumping off a building,” which was true.
She didn’t see the humor, not even
when I pointed to the line of soldiers.
If only I could’ve explained to her that
fear of the next thing keeps pain from the past
in place, she might have understood this
was a new mission for a coming day,
my fight against terror in a timid heart.
From there, it was all about falling &
rising up as if to say to gravity, “Goodbye.”