Standing on the end of the high dive,
having climbed up those long, high steps in full view of everyone at the pool,
knees trying not to wobble,
going higher and higher, taking what feels like forever
until standing safely on solid surface.

Stable and dry (nowhere to stand forever, but known and safe for now),
The rough non-slip surface is reassuring
against the wind and the oscillations of the board,
a dry, high haven.

Once you jump or fall,
the laws of physics take over
and there’s no stopping the inevitable:
you’re gonna hit the water.

But is dry what you desire?

No, you want to jump
and feel the butterflies fluttering in your stomach
and hear the wind rush by your ears
and hold your breath
and experience the exhilaration and the fear together,
and become enveloped by water below.

Lingering at the very edge of the high board,
everyone down below — family, friends, students —
treading water and yelling Go ahead, it’ll be ok.
Take the leap; you are as good as wet already.

Trust is easy with their beckonings below,
but fear — irrational or rational — still lingers and swirls around you
like the breeze in your dry hair,
suggesting so many ways to fail:
Drowning
Accident
Broken eardrums
Cowardice
Poor form
Suit falling off because of the force of the belly flop
Dying of embarrassment.

But your water nature is your destiny
and despite these fears, real and imagined,
you must step inevitably off the high dive
through space and void and into that pool.

Toes over the edge
Dangling
Painted red
Get them wet

We’ll be in the water waiting for you

[see also “Beneath the High Dive“]