Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

To a Limited Extent

Adrienne Su
From Prairie Schooner, Vol. 85, No. 2 (Summer 2011)

it's not about how far you fall
but how: you could break a leg
by missing what you'd barely call
a height, like the bottom step,

your mind on another planet,
your body dully at home, moving
laundry or a chair. The damage
may be minor, but it quietly ruins

your plans. Never again, you say,
shall I carry laundry or a chair.
For a time you don't, until the day
you have to strive again, to scale

the hill or wall that is the ground,
though still you'd prefer not to lead
this march. Others have renounced
much more. Everyone needs

to be inert sometimes; you can sit out
further rounds. But being too strong
enables hope to entwine with doubt
so that both can prove you wrong:

where others would have given in
to joy's unreasonable limits,
you who were always too disciplined
at managing life, managed to miss it.