The Silence of the Summit (I.P.)
Darkness falls and I am cold;
limbs – stiffening, hope – fading.
In my alpine-rated bag, close my ears
to the marmots’ piercing lullaby;
often wondered where Whistler
Mountain got its name.
‘Neath my canopy of stars, I pick out
Orion, The Plough; amazing things –
stars. So too, the satellite constellation;
much like dot to dot technology.
I shall call everyone I know – tell
them of the slide this afternoon...
How I’d seen Sockeye Salmon spawn
at Gates Creek; saw a Bald Head Eagle
glide the skies at the Squamish Estuary,
a Trumpeter Swan that skated – having
just crash-landed on the ice.
Avalanche risk was high; only,
I’ve always courted danger
and where danger is, so is fate,
hand in hand with eventuality.
And here I lie, broken, but
most of all, elated.
James Joyce comes to mind.
“He had doubled the cape
a few odd times...weathered
a monsoon...and through all
those perils of the deep – one
thing, he declared...a pious
medal he had that saved him.”
‘Why do I climb mountains?’
they ask. ‘Why do birds fly
and salmon swim upstream?’
is my reply. Yes, I will talk...
till my batteries run dry and
the satellite bids, ‘Good night’.
Then, I shall sleep.