On Climbing Mountains
Being the only things that have grown harder,
the going up and the going down make way
for infinitesimally slanted mountainous esoterica,
basins lakes receded from, saddles and moraines
where immemorial glaciers gave up their ghosts
and men may sleep on stone and fitful till.
Next day, in the name of seeing from above,
climbing some peak and wondering
at the wonder of it, wondering also why one wanders
so among the stones aspiring downward,
as every stone does, including some that totter
and announce their intent relentlessly the other way.
Then to arrive and be befallen by the body
that bore one and the body of the earth
on which the necklaced lakes bluely shimmer.
The candy bar stove in thirds and the passed flask
of whiskey. Some bones where a bird undid
a vole, a boutonnière of heather pink with breathless bells.
There a momentary nap, a raven risen on a thermal,
a snowfield on the sunless north side unreachable
and guttered underneath so massively the sun
from below shines up and blows a steam through the top
the sun from above incinerates, the descent already
taking shape in the minds’ eyes and waiting.
Then down, recognizing certain rocks, by which
is also recognized the rightness of way, as though
despite the chaos of the mountain’s composition
there is but the one, and back to the barely slanted camp
to lie in hammocks and regard the peak itself
as less a place than a time not to be lived through again.
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