i. the blue inkwell of the sky
As a boy, I remember thinking ‘how is it possible to climb into the sky?’
My father gave action to my dreams he taught me to climb small mountains
I have a theory that people climb for the smell of it
I felt more like an astronaut no clouds a curving horizon
Just the flapping prayer flags the beat and heave of my heart and my lungs
You cannot imagine how beautiful
small tissue notelets Ang Lakpa told me to throw them
into the air they hung there, caught in the updraughts
about 20 feet above our heads
ii. its wings and drops and cliffs
I was travelling in a whiteout I fell head over heels
my ice axe had no bite in the snow
I could not feel my feet because of frostbite
the torches were not working
night was falling and the wind was picking up.
I just slumped into the snow and cried —
tears for lost friends.
Some of us lost all our toes and some fingertips.
The summit is a narrow place.
20 people were already there.
I descended about 20 feet and sat alone.
Note: this poem was adapted from Everest: Reflections from the Top,
eds. Christine Gee, Garry Weare and Margaret Gee
39.0: JACKPOT!Guest poetry editor: Samuel Wagan Watson
Release date: 1 August 2012
Index of poems
Featured artist: Queenie Chan