Nancy: Blizzard, whirlwind, maelstrom of air, snow packed against, blocking, the windows – creating a world of memory and imagination.
Snow On The Windows
a geology textbook
a campsite at Jumbo Rocks
a canyon, walking deep into history
a rolling meadow
Mount Kailas, streaming cloud
I might say
I am shut in
yes, I am shut in
Alan: If I fly, it’s the landing that scares me. If I climb, it’s the wondering how to get down.
It’s not the climb that’s so hard –
even Jack knew that –
strength, agility, courage
all that’s needed. Once there
the adventure, despite dangers,
with or without the stolen
or even offered boon,
it’s the descent –
the stalk collapsing, the magic gone.
Shamans who beat their drums
then threw their rope-ends into the air
knowing they might not return
might fall down dead or mad.
Those waiting also knew,
making the wait a prayer.
My father told of climbing the knotted rope
to the gym’s very rafters;
then, thinking it smart,
he slid down neat and quick,
tearing the calluses off both hands.
The coach mercurochromed the raw flesh.
He almost hit the roof again.
A trivial example but worth recalling.
There were oracles of the state who, summoned,
first went into trance.
Only then could they bear the headdress
hoisted by several men
that otherwise would snap their necks.
Each time the fierce deity
entered them and spoke,
their lives shortened. Yet it had to be done.
So, as we climb now
with hands and feet, with our whole bodies
disappearing toward what we cannot know
may never reach or, reaching, find ungraspable
let us remember
when it comes time at last to descend
to do so gently, slowly –
bearing at least ourselves as proof –
and with infinite care