James Fowler teaches literature at the University of Central Arkansas. His poems have appeared in Cave Region Review, Elder Mountain, Valley Voices, Cantos, Futures Trading, and The Milo Review, among others.
From the old mine, the raging river,
the lion at the safari park.
By Lassie, the emergency squad,
the guy who denies he’s a hero.
Usually one by one, the basket
winched back into the chopper’s belly.
Sometimes the jackpot: a whole van
of Methodists teetering on an overpass.
Saved, all saved from certain, ugly death.
Chalk up another for victorious life.
Then send the cameras away. Don’t dilute
the story with the tedious aftermath
Of common subtraction. Five years past
the avalanche, crushing debt or depression
stakes its claim. Or the smiling survivor
comes to learn the ropes of lingering.
It’s postponement, not absolute discharge,
of an end likely less sensational,
less sudden. Later rather than sooner,
with whatever sweetness reprieve affords.
Saved from, yes, but saved for as well,
whether more of the same, less, or a fork
from the moment of recovery into
newer, wider channels. Alive; alive to.