01 September 2009

September poem of the month

This is the third section of a poem whose first section I posted in July and whose second section I posted as the August poem of the month. There should be one more section forthcoming.

III. A Storm is Coming

Eyes can see a sizable swathe, and the mind can take
spectrum and miscellany, the gamut, with ease. Why then
is the brain astounded and confounded by the diachromatic scheme
of this simple scene? Only the brown of a catastrophe of rock
backed by the pale of a terrible sky. Between annihilation and me
a crumble of granite, pebbles stacked by a laughing titan,
sloping up into exclusion, complete and indifferent.
Give me more complexity!
I cannot stand the stark, the tranquil, horror of it,
nor the endless stretch of bread-sized rocks, piled, mile-high, silent,
wild in a way no beast can be, set as a quest in solidity.

But the spirit can, and the body does. It sets its teeth
and its feet, in all their acrophobia, for the heights.
This is virtue, or something palpable that deeds
of less tactile goodness can only adumbrate. There is no afterlife
for embodied acts of topographic goodness:
defy gravity, encounter vertigo, drown paranoia in sweat, strain tendons
past the point of hesitation, bend knees to climb, and the act lives on.
Eternally. The immaterial self, inseparable from plain materiality,
takes each step and knows each strain, and all is paid
in performing. No double recompense.
The aching thighs, the listening for an avalanche, the thinner air
clearing the fog inside and out the skull, the alert tension
in pectorals abs and calves, the Achilles taut and strong:
all delight in terror and tread down the fear.

Whatever the spirit does, does something to the flesh.
This touchable meat of me and the glorious intangibility
both suffered and endured: both ache as the summit nears,
and both will be stiff with victory tomorrow.
The mind fought panic, the body fought shakes;
the mind won over fear of heights, the body won
from fear of heights. I see no separation, no divide.
No Purgatory: all is purged.

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