Not so different, he and I

He was an older teen, blind and paraplegic,
with slurred and inarticulate speech
and strapped atop a sled with a single ski
that was being slowly tortured down
the bunny slope in wide, graceful arcs
by a volunteer.

Clearly, it terrified the poor child,
you could hear him all over the hill.
He was screaming like one of the damned,
his breath coming spasmodically,
his body twitching to and fro, wanting
to be done with it, wanting to be gone,
wanting to be someplace, anyplace,
as long as that place was elsewhere.
But then, at the bottom, breathless,
by then bouncing in his seat,
I heard him say it: Again!
And then even louder, Again! Again!


The incident that sparked this story happened at the Sunday River ski resort in Newry, Maine, where my wife and I recently vacationed. The last time we were there in 2012 the Once Skiing poem came out it.

The photograph was shot on this recent skiing trip. It is a selfie taken in a double paned window at the base lodge. (That’s a plastic sleeve over the camera to protect it from the falling snow.) To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.


Photograph, poem and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © John Etheridge, The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.


Filed under Poetry

18 responses to “Not so different, he and I

  1. Good poem John. Excellent in fact. >KB

    • KB, thank you so much! As you know, I well appreciate your standards so that means a lot to me. Plus, what I was striving for in that poem is, in part, a reflection of how I have tried to understand and implement that article you posted some time back on the need for a new poetry style for the 21st century. Again, many thanks!

  2. markrenney1

    Both poem and image are excellent.

  3. Pete Hulme

    Beautifully conveyed! And there are resonances that bounce between the poem and its title that are echoing round my head still.

    • Pete,

      Thank you so, so much for that comment on the title! One of the things I have been trying to do is more completely work the title of a poem into the concept of the poem, rather than just let it sit there acting as a mere label. That’s not as easy as it sounds and I had hoped I had struck the right chord with this one. 🙂 Plus, like you, increasing the depth of the accessibility of my poetry, without their losing their emotional impact, is something I am more completely trying to achieve.

  4. Spent quality of life time with your postings today, John…buttoned a few…know that I admire all of your poetry greatly…all.

  5. there is something so poignant and yet so full of life in that ❤️

  6. This piercing piece carried me downwards, with uncontrolled curves. “Again! Again!” Your title refers to the thrill that comes mixed with the anxiety of the unknown? Or the dread that comes in the midst of the adventure?

    • T, you hit it on the nail, both! How often and how much we fear the unknown, even though in the end all of our wilder adventures are all to the good for us, because we grow and learn from them. A good life is not for the too timid or shy, but for those who challenge themselves, and even for those who make mistakes doing so…if they learn from them. And specifically, challenge ourselves in being better human beings.

      No two people could be more different than that young man and I, and he humbled me into understanding that there were no two people more alike.

      Cheers, brother! 🙂