i hung suspended

a hundred feet above the rocks

the Grand Teton beyond my shoulder

my boots against yellow green lichen

i knew this was it

we begged our instructor to rappel again

“look,” he said

“you only rappel as the last resort.

it can get you dead.”

years later on a darkening wall

i was again suspended on a rope

hurrying to get down

before dark pinned us high

without food or warmth

above, he called down

“don’t bounce on the rope”

i stopped, feet on the wall

leaning out i could dimly see him above

“find a place to stop,” he said

tip-toeing down

the rope softly slipping through my rig

i got my feet on something

my hands jammed into a crack

the rope jumped and moved about until he said

“ok. go slow.”

we got down at full dark

left the jammed rope on the wall

stumbled and slid down the dark steep mile to the truck

later at the noisy bar

over burgers and beer he said

“the anchor was coming out.”

i thought about this

“it would have been ok. i was almost to a ledge.”

” no,” he said

“you would have come off. dropped like a rock”

we went back the next day

to retrieve the jammed rope

standing on the ground where i almost died

a corner was turned

another road taken

epiphany can come in strange ways

Copyright Michael Douglas Scott