Climbing alone now –
your partner’s out of sight –
Slide, sweat, sick,
halt nearby,
trickledown fear.

You hang there falling
like a kitten on a tilting
glass-topped table.

` On a rock face
on a roof pitch
you lie
trying to stretch your arms
around the whole earth,
nearly weeping,
squeezing down the shudder
which would shake you off.

to try to get back up,
unstick a hand, a foot,
slither, scrabble,
unclamp a jaw,
tear loose a tongue,
drag your face out of the dust
on an aching neck.

Now come the harpies.

Fear, rage and despair
pluck your eyes,
stab your belly,
gnaw your liver
and shrink your sex.

Like a little boy
afraid in school,
your death seems as close as air,
clinging like wet trousers,
strangling like an overtightened tie –
birth-cord round your throat.

Now, to get out of this.