Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mountain poem for a woman

A poem that appeared in the print journal Bellowing Ark, which is no longer with us:

Mountain poem for a woman
who died climbing

Thundercells and lightning all around the valley
playing my guitar out on the grass
swatting mosquitoes and singing sad songs
looking in at the people in other trailers
drinking and watching tv
cool wind and an open patch of stars

I didn’t know you
our helicopter flew your body back down
you weighed nothing
and we flew you out in a bag
attached to a cable and hook

you fell two hundred feet
maybe more
your partner had her phone
though it was too late even then
even before the rangers could get there

your friends seemed like good people
they cried not because they didn’t understand
but because they did
that you were doing something you felt passionate about
and why should someone die doing that?
and yet what other way would there be to go?
standard procedure is to land the body away
from the helispot
where the coroner can pick it up discreetly
but they walked over to look at you
to open the bag and see you one last time

I couldn’t
I would have liked you
I have always liked the idea of women like you
physical and strong and independent

I stayed where I was
it was sunny there
and wrens kept circling around us
picking up small pieces of grass and dirt

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