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Tightrope Walkers

Small, carefully placed steps.
Each one anticipated by the one before.
The tightrope walker enacts his nightly ritual,
A trick repeated ten hundred times before

The silent crowd waits, mesmerized.
Glazed eyes upturned, enthralled.
Hardly daring to consider that daunting prospect of failure,
Then by their very thoughts immediately appalled.

He is tired, getting old.
Day by day the rope seems thinner, longer, feet are less than swift.
His mind wanders; his body sinks effortlessly into the hungry crowd.
A ringside seat for death.

We all tread our ropes across the abyss of life.
Each step affected by the one before.
How easy to gently sway and fall,
To be devoured by the crowds hungry roar.

The art of balance is never easy.
Planning each step nervously according to the condition of the rope,
Never looking downwards into the magnetic crowd,
The untrodden twine ahead radiates faintly of hope.

It is folly to linger in insecurity
When the rope twists and frays.
Stealthy feet, careful feet glide over the shreds
As the rope splits, divides and goes its separate ways.

At times, laden with the weight of others on our shoulders,
We stumble and sway, bearing down we fall from the straining rope.
If you know the trick, the net is waiting.
If not, drawn over the edge, you helplessly grope.

Turn a deaf ear to the chanting crowd,
Look straight ahead, walk side by side with utmost care.
Hopeless entwinements should be avoided;
At birth we are alone and death we cannot share.

(A metaphor on life written in 1979)