First Climb of the Season
Up here the trees hold on to stone
as I do, lightly and improbably.
The arms colloquially bent,
the nerves observant in the finger-tips;
the heart abandoned like a calculus
in pieces and lost track of, like a sum.
I look around me, staring at the light.
The blood turns over in a thrill of height.
This is a real mountain, after all,
and I am on it, living with some skill,
doing the one thing only.
I love the books lined up like bread
but for astonishment I need a certain dread
that comes first-hand.
I need the pull of space, the scent of air
and now and then to be brought up against
the ultimatum of the things that are.
Though every such encounter (as it does)
should send me back ashamed
by the fourth or the fifth venture, start to change:
to grow more calm and gentler: to foreswear
a few of the complexities of fear:
to show the keyed emphatic grin
of one who thinks he has a thing to say.
I do not hesitate to call it love
for all its strangeness. The boot is placed,
the hands invested: and they stay!
And all the brittleness is torn away
that formed upon me in the months of rain.
I lift my hands to their embodiment in stone.