My mother said the waterfall
brightened the blue in my eyes
as if it was part of me and I was
the one spilling over the rock bowl.
She tied my hair back and warned me
in the oaken strength of her low voice
not to climb toward the roaring center,
not to think I could discover its source.
I poked the moss bed at the base
but the waterfall’s light danced
on my skin, giving me goosebumps
and inviting me to come closer.
Soon the rocks were no longer jagged,
but instead a regular series of steps
leading somewhere new. I scrambled up,
gripping boulders with my fingertips.
At last I came to the wall that promised
grass and the bubbly crest of the falls.
As I scanned the surface for holds,
I heard my mother’s desperate cry.
Turning, I suddenly saw the jagged rocks
below and I didn’t know how I had got there.
Searching for my mother’s face, I knew
I had to make it back down myself.