do you know how hard this is for me?
do you know what you’re asking?
what i can promise is to be water,
water plain and direct as Niagara.
unsparing of myself, unsparing of
the cliff i batter, but also unsparing
of you, tourist. the question for me is
how long can i cling to this edge?
the question for you is
what have you ever traveled toward
more than your own safety?
Clifton, Lucille. The Book of Light: Anniversary Edition. p. 37, Copper Canyon Press.
Why I chose this poem
This poem is the second of several of poems to Clark Kent and Superman that thread through the book. I deeply appreciate the bite, the promises she makes, the unsparing question she poses for the the tourist. It reminds me of a recent conversation I had with a friend about travelling, the why of it, the how of it, and the difference in the stakes for the people whose lives the tourist walks through.