It's just poetry, it won't bite


03.19.17 Posted in today's words by

By Lucas Powers

I can’t stop
Watching movies
On mountains

From the Dolomites
To the Himalayas

My mind crawls
Along the shark’s fin
Is lost in the
Khumbu icefalls
Follows the antlike
Scramble of Messner
Without oxygen
Up the South Col
To the Hillary Step

K2 is the savage mountain
Marked for death
A cairn at base camp
Is adorned with
Silver plates
Those who went up
But did not come
Back down

I am in grip of
The death zone

The ascent is

All that it offers
Is some screwball
Idea of clarity

Frost bitten limbs
Tents lashed to
With ice screws

The paraphernalia
Of hubris:
Crampons, carabiners
Fixed ropes, ice axes
Helmets, goggles
And an endless
Assortment of knots

Summiting is
The thing.

A pretense of a
Moment of

But then,
Like Sisyphus,
There is the
Going back down
(More likely to
Kill you than
going up)

And despite
Camus’ optic
Sisyphus does
Not smile.

He has only
Flash memories
That play him

He will dream
Black ice on
The Eiger face,
Ice chasms in Peru,
And a brother climber
Left for dead
On Nanga Parbat

The last mountain
I climbed was
Sugarloaf at
Camp Ocoee
In the southern corner
Of East Tennessee

About 2000 feet,
An achievement for
A grade schooler
I guess—
Because the path
In a couple places
And horsing around
Could get yourself

But the top was
A letdown in summer
You had to climb
One of the tall pines
To get any vantage
We fell across
Fallen treetrunks
To fill our lungs
Without words
Somebody starting
A camp song
But it soon died

And then it was
Time to go
back down

The big pines
Sighed relief
At the end of
Our intrusion
As we secreted
“Indian file”
Down the narrow
Path with its
Precarious washouts
And overhanging
Boulders that
Had lost their
Adventure and
Given way to
Simple danger

And we would
Sleep hard in
Our bunks tonight
No talking
No joy
Having trampled
Upon the top
Of a mountain
That only the day
Before had seemed
As elusive
As Everest.

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