29,028 Feet, 1953

HilaryNorgey

I

The mountain stands taller than any part of the sky,

the air so thin, two men so high.

It’s there for the taking, it’s there for the eye to eat,

it’s there like wildfire made of ice for the heartbeat

and there is nothing more that can be made of it,

excepting death and truth and the squalid pit

that humans make when we tempt fate.

II

This struggle brings their feet up through twists

and broken angularity; through ancient, harrowing mists

and the stopped clock of metal shavings, ticking

like the pulse pounding in the neck, oxygenated.

Above in the pure dark of the night, at the top of

The world where the stars are so goddamned bright,

all of this, all of our striving and climbing,

what drives us onward, what makes this right?

III

To at last make final footfall on stone and ice

the exhausting effort, the exacting price.

But knowing now we have arrived,

this achievement being the source of pride,

for in that moment which memories create,

like the instant when light is trapped in silver iodide,

and the forever passing of the date.

We’re here, on this mountain, alive.

And I won’t forget.

 

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