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"Cooks Brook" by Al Pittman is primarily a poem about fear. The fear that the speaker feels about cliff-diving is not irrational, however, but very real. After all, he's diving into a natural pool, guarded by a "shelf of rock/ That lay two feet below the surface/
And reached quarter of the way out/into the width of the pool."
There is another sense of fear at work here, however, that comes in the form of peer pressure. The speaker would rather plunge to certain death, "Knowing full well/ It would be better to die/ Skull smashed open in the water/ Than it would be to climb
Backwards down to the beach." The speaker must juggle these fears and decide which to confront.
At the end of the poem, we find out that this isn't the only fear that the speaker deals with. He walks casually to the shore,
As though it was every day of the week
[he] daringly defied the demons
Who lived so terribly
In the haunted hours of [his] sleep
There are other fears at play here for the speaker. Cliff-diving is one way that he has chosen to deal with them.
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