By | 1 August 2012

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

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