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Long Beach, CA

To Simply Climb

They hired Swiss guides to teach Canadians how to climb
Or just to lead them to some patch where they could play, 
To make some wild wooded part of mountain enough of a playground, like saddling a tiger, teetering in the seasons between avalanches 

Before there were selfies or livestreams to show it 
The thing itself was what you lived for
A snowflake that would melt, but you held it just the same
The precious reality of something you cannot save 
Becomes the very thing that points the way 
In a time when you just breathed in and hoped to remember the warm feel of sunlight 
The memory a sunbeam in the brain, kept through the long decades 

Can you imagine opening a land to sport, as they called your name and paid you to teach survival on a mountain pass? 
And you thrilled with the thought of buxom blondes steamed over to this new land, 
To be one of those first few to stand on the summit of Rundle or some other peak which promised escape, above it all?

The sorrows of 1910 were still the size of peaks, despite it all
There was loss and death
It must have been like a poet finding the right word, a gambler floating aces on the river
A sort of escape, as you suited up, slipping your rope up and over your shoulder,
Forsaking the precision of your Swiss watch
Watching shadows instead, playing across the mountain faces

Into the veritable frontier, as you looked up to the slopes ahead, and, forgetting the ones behind
Enjoyed the great pleasure of singular focus and a clear goal
To stay alive
To simply climb

For more poetry, click here