Saturday, January 25, 2014

alpen glow

A breadth of  frosty fastnesses slashed my sight today,
Milk-glass skies, swirling shades of translucent amber
Deepening unto dusk, bleeding teal and myrtle--
These clipped nouns crumble to dust before them.

Above a winding road, Orion tightened his belt,
Dreaming a city of no fears in jeweled strands:
Topaz, lapis and pearls, throbbing, trembling--
Even tears fail to gain a purchase on this vision.

Once, in a small plane above the Wrangell mountains,
We swooped over the edge, a sudden drop-off,
A thousand chances to be swallowed in icy chasms--
Balanced by a preposterous antidote: lucid joy.


Behind this poem lurks a childhood memory: when my uncle decided to climb a 16,000 foot mountain, which he hoped would be an "easy ski" all the way back down -- and I helped my aunt bake batches of cookies, so that we could drop (literally) a package to him from the open window of a tiny airplane.

I remembered this day,  later on, when I found myself driving up a mountain early one evening, in 2014, and I found myself staring at the stars, questioning them and myself, and crying for what seemed like no reason at all.  All of the emotions in the world seemed to gathered themselves inside me ... and then I recalled how my aunt and I flew off home -- the other side of the 16,000-foot peak -- the vertiginous contrast of looking the side of a massive mountainous cliff straight in the eyes, then, a mere 10-15 minutes later, touching down on a gravel runway, safe and sound.

And then, somehow the stars (or I) stopped crying, and I discovered I was laughing instead.


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