Rosanna Warren reads

Simile

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As when her friend, the crack Austrian skier, in the story
she often told us, had to face
his first Olympic ski jump and, from
the starting ramp over the chute that plunged
so vertiginously its bottom lip
disappeared from view, gazed
on a horizon of Alps that swam and dandled around him
like toy boats in a bathtub, and he could not
for all his iron determination,
training and courage
ungrip his fingers from the railings of the starting gate, so that
his teammates had to join in prying
up, finger by finger, his hands
to free him, so

facing death, my
mother gripped the bedrails but still
stared straight ahead—and
who was it, finally,
who loosened
her hands?