when my friend stayed on the high board until dark
(after which, for him, this story never ends)
afraid to dive, unable to jump. I climbed up
twice to check on him before going home
for the day, finding him increasingly
cold and weepy in his dull brown
moment as the hours wore on.

On my second trip up I believe
he asked me to call his mother,
though I pretended not to hear—
for this was the rule we all embraced
(himself included, before he’d begun his climb):
if not to dive, once at the top, then at least to jump—
but never to walk backwards through the gates of pride.