Scientifically Speaking, Not Down There

For what feels like ninety times in the past three months, I have stood at the doctor’s office
Staring resolutely at an arbitrary spot on the wall
Waiting for the nurse to finish weighing me
And repeating to myself, “Don’t look down.”

I am not afraid of heights.
I don’t enjoy being suspended at the mercy of gravity
But I am not afraid of it. It’s just science.

But when it comes to my relationship with gravity
I stand on a slab of glass at the doctor
Standing like it’s sticking out of the wall of the Empire State Building
Letting myself be at the mercy of all the air between my feet and Manhattan below

Don’t look down.

You encouraged me to do so
To look down,
Stare down
Stare until the numbers burned into my brain
And I fucking idolized you for it
I thought your fragile bones held wisdom when
They couldn’t even hold you upright.
And you whispered poison in my ear and that’s all I wanted to live off
Because god (and you) knew that was all I could eat.

So I looked.
Stared at the numbers and the water and the concrete below
Swaying on the railing of the Tyne Bridge
Hovering between life and death and malnourishment
Wondering if physics and chemistry could allow some wiggle room if you decided in the middle that you didn’t want to fall anymore.

Physics and chemistry don’t allow for one-off mistakes
And your body told biology to go fuck itself.
So you free fell into heaven and I will go to the doctor and stand in the least sexy pose
(like you told me to) so I could see what a mess I am
(like you told me to) and stare at the wall and tell myself don’t look down, don’t look down, it’s dangerous down there, stare ahead stare ahead keep your eyes on the wall look to the future DON’T


You don’t have a future. You don’t have a relationship with gravity. You’re in heaven.

You can look down at me if you want to.

© Chapin Langenheim, 2019

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