Spring 1988, Volume 5.1
as you would enter the wilderness
be tender napola uou, * be tender.
I brought you home wild onions
pressed in the pocket of my rain jacket,
white woolly tufts of mountain goat hair
snagged on thorny bushes above the treeline,
tales of wind blowing the snow crimson
around the peaks at sunset,
all this to say I had not forgotten
you ran deeper than rivers below the glacier.
I climbed and climbed until nothing was left in me I only
wanted to lie curved against the belly of the earth and dream
the sleep of plants and stones my entire body sharing the work
of my feet while they rested and grew round on the soles I
climbed until I was empty and in came July winds at two am
warm against burning cheeks cool creek water over dry eyes
mossy earth welcoming every weary rolling step blessed to be
off the glacier finally blessed to be on solid ground
blessed to breathe wet milky
air thick enough to drink
we drank coffee on your porch mornings.
Empty of all else
I leaned against your legs
strong as virgin stands of timber
on the green-breasted penisula.
You embraced me
as mountains embrace cedar groves
that have never known a blade.
Yes I remember that morning because there was nowhere else
I wanted to be because the sun on your hand around
the cup the smell of orange and cinnamon your legs all of these
were precious and I didn't want to move for fear of frightening
the moment away like some small wild animal.
I know now
to rest too long
movement means survival.
I was not freed of you
until I learned
that pleasure is allowed
as much as given
we are separate and rooted
as each young cedar.
We draw life
from the same earth and sky,
collected on leaves open
as the palm of my hand.
Do not always walk in shade
or the cool under trees
push through dense forest beyond
this canopy of dark green to meadows of light
lie naked in heather springing rough from the snow
just flowering your hair will trap sunlight
sky will reflect your eyes marmots riddling
the mountainside will stand on their hind legs and
whistle at this soft stranger red-faced
brown-armed winds chill from flying across snow
will sculpt your breasts
after you have rested
we will continue.
It is possible
to reach every peak
your eye can see and beyond,
so much is beyond;
days like valleys
fall quietly before us.
We wake at midnight
to climb through bowl after bowl
clay-smooth and round
slowly so slowly at times
it seems we are not moving at all yet my feet find the prints
left by yours as they form a perfect staircase our headlamps
beam procession of light Easter candles our love
like hands linked between us deepens with each stroke
of each ice axe planted firm an anchor above the clouds.
to the benediction
suffuses this vast unconscious landscape.
I Am Content
I am content here
to simply look,
to search the wilderness in you
from this distance.
Not for a narrow path
to make the way easy
only for the pleasure of seeing
and a chance to receive
the gift of familiarity
with what is vastly beautiful
I am taken
the way rock is taken;
more often unnoticed.
As threads of water
furrow the cliff's face
you are inscribed
upon my heart.
To feel the strength of the ocean
I lay parallel the waves.
Water is confined by its own pathways.
These longings I can do nothing about
my blood races as wind races
as water floods entire landscapes
not free but confined
in circular pathways.
no chance of expansion
unless skin is cut
then it flows
from the heart.
the most balanced position
is that which at first
feels most unnatural.
You must learn to place your weight
directly over your feet
and not lean into the rock.
is the fastest way
to the ground.
The only strength
lies in exposure.
Nothing is known more deeply
nor so bravely resisted.
Climbing a ridge
thin as a blade of light
The point is the views;
a ridge route
is most desired.
On the glacier's white flank
cold sucks at all that flows.
Because I cannot be still here
life is missing a dimension,
like the painting of a deaf man.
Only your face is unclothed.
I am drawn to any evidence of fluid warmth;
I kiss your eyelids
the incessant life within pauses,
your lips and the tip of your tongue are cold
*In Greek, "my heart," a term of endearment