We received the fax by yak: her north face
lies thick with snow and weather isn't hopeful.
Just like last time on that face when my toes
died. They came off, then bigger bits. But climbs
since then have me convinced, and now I love
my calves. A secret edge: steel don't frostbite.
Last night in tent I dreamt of parachutes
and saws, tea time on the summit singing
Miss Otis regrets she is unable
to belay today. Then, an ice cave dirge.
My daughters threw flowers which broke against
the glass lid of my coffin. My wife wailed
and moved to Kansas, where it's flat as death
and Jayhawks sing hello. Now Sherpas bring
biscuits for breakfast and we're back humping
loads. Base camp feels like blackboard fingernails
erasing every angle of ascent.
Humming glaciers plow the laggards into
chalk. Mandalas of gravity spin rocks
the size of homes. I wonder if my mail
has found my daughters in their little room
with fuzzed wallpaper clouds. Snow, discussion,
plans, routes. We are to wear our sponsor's heart
on our sleeves at all times. Film's paramount
for further finance. Wait for the cameras
at the fourth icefall crevasse--our dragon.
The narrator's voice will lift the drama
higher 'tween ads for trucks and Mutual
of Omaha. (At home, watchers will pad
into the kitchen, get themselves a beer.)
He will cheer on risk and wind, while the ring
of my metal bones on rock adds texture
to the soundtrack. This cold scrape satisfies
all needs of mind and body, the viewers
will be told, wrongly. Be told I've forgotten
the past, I'm living in the moment. Cut.