The Afterthought

By Gianmarc Manzione
Originally published in The Paris Review 173 (2005): 238.

Why, before I jumped over, did I

crouch down to stare

between the bars of the 9th floor railing

overlooking the lobby, peek further

into the hundred woven rooms

the spider made there,

all those meticulous corners,

as though I could keep my counsel

within them, as though I had at last

found the place I could look out from

and not be afraid.

Why was it hard to desert

even that minor intimacy,

a last necessary death

before doing what had to be done.

And when I did lean into nothing,

the lobby’s glossed floor

closing in fast from below,

why did it not thrill me

to become air,

to crash so splendidly

out of myself

that no one would ever

hear my name again,

only rumors

of one who accomplished

this rude fame.