A student, a young woman, in a fourth-floor hallway of her lycée,
perched on the ledge of an open window chatting with friends between classes;
a teacher passes and chides her, Be careful, you might fall, almost banteringly chides her, You might fall,
and the young woman, eighteen, a girl really, though she wouldn't think that,
as brilliant as she is, first in her class, and Beautiful, too, she's often told,
smiles back, and leans into the open window, which wouldn't even be open if it were winter, if it were winter someone would have closed it (Close it!),
leans into the window, farther, still smiling, farther and farther,
though it takes less time than this, really an instant, and lets herself fall. Herself fall.
A casual impulse, a fancy, never thought of until now, hardly thought of even now... No, more than impulse or fancy, the girl knows what she's doing,
the girl means something, the girl means to mean, because, it occurs to her in that instant, that beautiful or not, bright yes or no,
she's not who she is, she's not the person she is, and the reason, she suddenly knows,
is that there's been so much premeditation where she is, so much plotting and planning,
there's hardly a person where she is, or if there is, it's not her, or not wholly her,
it's a self inhabited, lived in by her, and seemingly even as she thinks it she knows what's been missing: grace, not premeditation but grace,
a kind of being in the world spontaneously, with grace.
Weightfully upon me was the world.
Weightfully this self which graced the world yet never wholly itself.
Weightfully this self which weighed upon me,
the release from which is what I desire and what I achieve.
And the girl remembers, in this infinite instant already so many times divided, the sadness she felt once, hardly knowing she felt it, merely to inhabit herself.
Yes, the girl falls, absurd to fall, even the earth with its compulsion to take unto itself all that falls must know that falling is absurd, yet the falling girl isn't myself,
or she is myself, but a self I took of my own volition unto myself.
Forever. With grace. This happened.
C. K. Williams