After the hammer blow, the silence
rocks back and forth: a powdery membrane
a handsbreadth from the ear and keyed
to the faltering rhythm of the heart:
we knew this would be steep,
but we did not know then
the frailty of knees that are cramped and snagged
by the stillness of a hundred days of dread;
we would climb with the vigor of young
not this hobble.
And at the center, it is nothing but that one same fear
repeated ten thousand different ways. The hammer lifts
and our stunned hand aims again.
all these failures mount to one,
one collapse of bravery:
the inevitable diastole
of any clench of hope.