by Lee Nash

Grace aux épaules
For Alain Robert

Burj Khalifa, Eiffel, Willis, Taipei 101:
their names are enough to give you vertigo.
Iron fists, twisting swords, taunting cartels –

this is not the Verdon,
it’s a quarter mile of glass and steel.
Necks craned, we scan the tartan grid,

our guts churning like fresh cement;
strong fingers, permanently bent, grip articulations.
It’s rare to see a man defy a stainless sky,

ignore the yawning void, not every day
someone smiles outside your window
on the ninety-seventh floor.

He skims up curtain walls, counts stories
like the months he lost in comas,
impossible reflections in his eyes,

clears the vertex, lifts his arms
above a blaze of urban lights.
Sometimes police arrest him, but this won’t deter him.

Our wounded superhero doesn’t care.
He climbs so he can be reborn
and doesn’t need eight legs – just two, and good shoes.


You Too Must Eat of the Honeycomb

One, she bends down
towards her basket of shopping
and comes up two;
adept at nosing aside her tee
he has found her nipple
and is taking his fill
as she hefts his two-year-old
body up against her breast,
unloads, makes conversation –
about honey, how the beekeeper
doesn’t move her hives
as that would stress the bees.
I ring up her groceries,
put them in a bag. All the while
she is leaking, giving,
and I want to reach over,
break another convention,
gently prise them apart, say,
It’s time. You’ve done enough.