Balance is noticed most when almost failed of-
in an elephant's delicate wavering
on her circus stool, for instance,
or that moment
when a ladder starts to tip but steadies back.
There are, too, its mysterious departures.
Hours after the dishes are washed and stacked,
a metal bowl clangs to the floor,
the weight of drying water all that altered;
a painting vertical for years
one morning-why?-requires a restoring tap.
You have felt it disappearing
from your own capricious heart-
a restlessness enters, the smallest leaning begins.
Already then inevitable,
the full collision,
the life you will describe afterwards always as "after."