San Ysidro Canyon

San Ysidro Canyon
by Paul J. Willis

Yesterday my daughter slipped
from underneath an overhang
some sixty feet above the ground.
She had climbed so sure and ably
to that hold. I squeezed the rope
and stopped her almost casually,
bolts and slings and carabiners
doing their allotted work.

There was one second no not even
part of one when all nine years
went hurtling down and all the threads
between us snapped to mute attention:
she so high and helpless, I
still grasping for her far below,
fingers cold and filled with
a cord not easily broken.

—from Say This Prayer into the Past