Hannelore on the South Face

The cold painted her porcelain
as eyes blackened in the marble
of her head, and though she seemed to look
right at you, begging you not to leave
her there, best guess is she died
about 20 minutes ago.

Her plea, just a noise up from the ice
and in the wind off the rocks: the residue
of her last thoughts and the steam
thickened in her throat.

She believed if she just sat down
to catch her breath she’d get back up.
And now she’s a leather woman who
watches all you salmon headed upstream.
For what?

A just current will carry your ragged scales
your red parkas, your heavy boots
back down the slope, flotsam
caught on the jagged rocks.

The wind groans through
the hollows of her skull
like a conch announcing ceremony.
Once her breath returns she’ll
tell you about the dream she’s having,
of flying off the mountain, fearless and barefoot,
and how good it feels
to get up off of the snow.

Published at Cactus Heart Press, 2013


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