Thursday, August 19th, 2010...12:42 pm
A vertical from sea level to where we stand
measures better than 12,000 feet. We begin
at the elevated backbone dividing a continent. Here
a raindrop falls and makes its way
to the Pacific Ocean. Another raindrop landing
just a little bit east takes a very different
course to the Atlantic. Just a small step
in the beginning makes a wide, wide
difference in the end.
Unlike the raindrops, we choose our direction
and decide west. Trees don’t grow at these
air-thinning heights, and my lungs understand.
We step carefully, trying to tread on rocks
instead of alpine tundra vegetation. Up here
the low-growing ground cover takes
a long time to recover.
I thank God that He has held back
high-mountain lightning and storms that would
be normal for the afternoon. We feel sun.
Big-rock cairns mark the right place,
call us to stay and assure us
we are on the trail, though the path
is not often trodden, not well defined.
We thirst, we need to drink often
especially at the mountain’s bare top,
yes, a giddy height, but a place hard-blown
by bullying winds and fierce sun bombarding
with not much air to protect us, not much air
between sun rays and skin.
Where is the map? I want the valley.
Our goal is the valley, and we can see
that is where the trees grow, the stream gives
life, the land is lush, our bodies
are protected in the low, low valley,
in the depths is growth and nourishment.
We cross the Divide east to west,
we cross tree line,
we cross the midpoint of August,
we cross a stream but first need
to build a bridge, dragging heavy logs
to the stream where the fishing is great.
What other crossings will be before me?
I consider, I take steps, I trust.
After the valley I load the pack again,
now lighter, and make my way, a harder way
back to the top, the mountain’s bare top
where I can turn around to see
where I have been, where I have grown,
and I know
I have risen from the valley.