Climbing the Leaning Tower
Waiting in line, Im giddy as a teenager.
Decades ago, I feared to go up.
Now, eager as the line starts moving,
I step briskly toward the tower, climb
the winding, tilted stairs with no railing,
just cracked stone walls on either side.
On the fourth floor and the seventh,
I go out to check the view, then keep
climbing, past the seven brass bells,
all the way to the top. The final flight
of stairs is narrow, has indentations
in the marble from centuries of feet.
High above red-tiled roofs, higher
even than the domes of the baptistry
and cathedral, I look at the hills
on the horizon, hunched under clouds.
What did I fear? That I would fall?
That someone would push me?
That the tower would finally topple
after more than six hundred years?
I start back down, thinking of what
Ive missed: the lava flow on Kilauea,
pink dolphins of the Amazon, zip-lining
in Limón, the life I could begin today.