The earth and stones have quit my feet
And expectations and obligations I did not meet
Threaten to swallow me whole...
...While I never lied, or faked, or stole,
And I praise God I've lived, and loved,
And could die content if pursued, or shoved-
I cannot, now, for my own vain thrill, or prideful bet
Risk the point without clamp...harness...net.
We count, three seconds clear, the fall of stones,
And to miss is sure, the dash of brains, and end of bones.
Fear seems reasonable, despite all inspired speech,
For I cannot stretch, or see, or reach
And my hands are cramped and slipping
And without harness or caribeeners clipping
Him to the wickedly distant, impossibly downwards cable
There is no place on the rockface sure or stable
For my guide to tuck himself into and latch, if I should jump,
Not a crop of stone, a gambled root, or grassy clump.
For all that terror, still I think to myself, that should I perish
It would be to light like this, as if painted by Maxfield Parrish.
So while hanging there terribly suspended
I am accounting for my life as if already ended.
I prepare to fall clear and push away-
He'll only dislocate his arm to ruin if he tries to save the day
Or fall himself, if he should try to catch, if I should miss:
I'd rather jump, than share Death's kiss.
It was I unsatisfied. I did not want to drive to the ledge
And take photos like tourists. So he brought me to the edge.
We scaled together most of the canyon of the mountain of the sun
And now, more than ever, I am certain he is the one...
For apparently he thinks of me, most high, that I can fly!
So I spend all that my nerves and strength can buy,
And thank God I can yet afford the space of a body and a boulder,
And there we lie hysterically relieved, shoulder to shoulder,
Pressed between the cliff wall and resting before the open air
While the sun sinks and my guide laughs without care,
The two of us seeking the light of stars
Caring not for bruises, cuts and scrapes, and minor scars.
And he is not mad at me that I had no wings and not enough daring,
For being trapped, and my shaking hands, and silly, scaring.
I light a fire and he cooks a can of beans,
And against that boulder our entire existance leans,
While we sleep, or eat from off the edge of a dagger.
And for all my Western bravado, and failed swagger
He insists I could have made it with gear,
That all but a handful of men don't climb free without fear,
That no woman of his country he knows would even try,
That I know the rocks, and how to well, and when not to die.
With the baying of goats below we drink our coffee and wait
Until his friends come, lower the gear, and I can demonstrate,
Passing with ease the gnarled grey trees, and gerbera,
Ascending the ravine where it is lined with aloe vera,
Weary and chastened but taking the pegged cliff-face,
Struggling to detach the clips, and out of breath for keeping their pace.
---But I don't want them to call my husband a fool,
Or say no woman from our tribe should come as a rule,
Just because I am already jittery from the other day, and weary
But in safety, I am more than capable, let them say, if that bleary.
Then it is done, and I seek the shade of the car,
And my husband thanks them for their coming, even it's far.
People will call us fools, or crazy, maybe
But I don't want them to treat me like a little baby.
And while this trip to the mountain has made me feel smaller
My love for my husband has grown, because he sees me as taller
Than what I am or have been. And for all love may fade or change with time,
What marks it true, is that it makes you more, and sees you climb.
And loving is always a free-climb without any harness or safety, or clip
And it can make an awful mess of your life if you slip.
So while some people may be content to successfully fall in love,
My love lifts me up, he holds me firmly there, and sees me rise above.