'Way back when, I posted the first two sections of a poem about a profound mountain-climbing experience I had. I've finally written the last two sections. Here's section one; here's section two. Now, the third part; tomorrow, the fourth.
III. A Storm is Coming
But the spirit can, and the body does. It sets its teeth
and its feet for the heights.
The mind must be enormous, to enclose in one ignored corner
such a massive swathe of space, undusted. If I can pack
a sidereal fear and my idea
of the entire size of the universe,
not ending with the atmosphere, on past planets, out past galaxies,
(all pressing, more than the heaviest pack, on my unstopping back)
into some tiny corner of my mind and hide it there
(just a nagging, unacknowledged noise: a dust feather in a draft),
then how huge is my mind!
Whatever the psyche does….
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.
The soul takes each step and knows each strain, and all is paid
in performing. No double recompense. No Purgatory: all is purged.
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.