The Tower and the Man

A Poem by David Lander

The man, I believe it was a man,
dove from his apartment on the fiftieth floor
and like a sack of wet vegetables, landed hard.

At that moment he stopped being a man.
He stopped being anything and vanished.

The fire that had driven him from his home
continued to burn terribly.

The crowd that had gathered in horror at the spectacle
of the tower in flames, continued to gasp.

But the man who had landed so hard and heavily
was not with them or the fire or his body any more.

I do not know his name.
I do not know the number of his apartment,
or how he had decorated it or who he lived with
but I know this man.

He needs no name.
He needs no number.
He needs not love minimalism or shabby chic,
for I know who he is.

He left behind blood, flesh, bits of bone, water, chemicals, gas.
He left behind binding things, releasing things, gripping things
and washing things.
He left behind books, that, I dare say, others will have read,
music that others will have enjoyed, old photographs, perhaps,
clothes, plates, cups, a stove and a fridge.
They are now cinders.

By chance it was him who dove fifty floors.
who chose to lean out, to stare into a smoking space,
to look down at the upturned faces,
to glance at the stars, and it was he who chose
to lean out, as if to test gravity.

Perhaps, he said ‘Come on, show me your power. End this for me.’

And then leaned that bit further so his blistered fingers
on the hot metal behind slipped and he began his plummet.
Was he calm? No.

He was terrified, if he was, at this point, even a he,
or a human.
So terrified, he was beyond fear as we who survive know fear;
the fear of public speaking, the fear of farting, the fear of rejection.

He gave away balance, released his grip and was now in the hand of gravity,
that cold, relentless master, who called him silently down, and down and down,
moving progressively faster so that he hit the pavement hard and vanished.

I know who he was.
I know everything important about him.

Like me, he breathed.
Like me, he was alive.
And now is not.