Woman on the roof

by Pam Newham

She’s up on the roof again,
sitting with her back against the chimney.
On the ground her children look up.
Clutching their children they cry,
“Come down. It’s not safe up there. Come down.
It’s us, mom, it’s us.”
(Oh, as if she does not know)
Sometimes she flutters her fingers at them.
Other times she turns her head away.
If they keep calling, she sighs
and climbs down the ladder
or simply jumps and floats to the ground.
Then she smiles into their anxious eyes
and pats their children’s cheeks.
When they ask, “Why do you go up there?”
she says, “I like the view”
or “It helps me think”
or “The air is clearer there.”
But she knows
(Oh, how she knows)
what it is they really fear.
That the day will come when
no matter how they call
no matter how they cry
she will never come down from there.


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