The Instant Between (A Poem About Falling)

The Instant Between by Krissy Kludt 
Originally posted here.

I.

I cling to the rock
gripping with all my strength
the tiny holds – cracks and ledges just
wide enough for a finger tip
Aware
only of the rock
and the air
behind, above, below.
Time passes – moments,
or eons, perhaps –
and then there is nothing but air rushing
by my falling body.
Silence.
Heavily weightless, nothing moves but the threads
of my hair, winding and unwinding around
one another in the wind,
a graceful dance.
Splash!
I plunge down deep, feet first
into the warm green water,
silence broken by the cavalcade of bubbles
babbling about me.
Suspended in the instant between
moving down and moving up
I taste the salt, feel it
kiss my lips, sting my eyes.
Then, in a rush, I surge to the surface
and suddenly it is sun, not water, that kisses my face.
I smile
and float,
held by the water, warmed by the sun
on the surface of a vast ocean.

II.

I wake in darkness.
I smell the rich, damp smell of earth
so close to my nose I can hardly breathe.
I can’t move enough to open my eyes.
I hear footsteps
muffled just enough
that I cannot tell if they are distant
or just above my head.
A moment passes –
or eons, maybe –
and I can feel a new warmth
stroking my hair.
I am suddenly aware of my arms
and the power to move them.
I push upward
feeling the damp, rich soil
move through my fingertips.
One by one, my ten fingers reach the surface –
there is no hurry here.
And then I discover my legs –
a slow flexing, a memory of movement –
I have done this before.
My legs push down
toes digging deeper into the soil
surrendering to its rich, fragrant darkness.
Time passes
in the in between
and then gradually
or suddenly –
which, I truly cannot say –
I feel the sunlight on my face:
a second awakening.
I blink the soil from my eyes
too accustomed to darkness
to take in all that light.

III.

I cling to the rock.
Or the ladder, rather,
there so long the rock has grown around it.
The waves batter my back
again
and again.
For many moments I can’t breathe
I cough the salt from my lungs,
blink it from my eyes –
the ocean has eclipsed all possibility of tears.
I brace myself for another wave –
just time enough to remember how to breathe
and adjust my grip on the cold, ridged metal
between each onslaught.
How long am I here?  I cannot say.
Time passes.
And then someone is behind me.
He is familiar, yet I’m not certain I
have seen him before.
He wraps his strength around me,
clinging to the ladder for me
pressing my body to safety
holding it with his own.
“I will hold you to this rock,” he whispers,
and in that moment I know his voice.
Time passes.  Moments.  Eons.
Gently, he pulls me from the ladder on the rock.
We float backward
He holds me in the swell
as my hands remember how to relax their grip.
“It’s okay,” he says, and I look around.
As he fades into the ocean,
the thought comes to me:
I have been here before.