To Venture; Sow Seeds

This might be an uphill battle.
Have you ever tried to build a fire in the wild, wild winter?
But if I don’t venture, I may lose myself.
More importantly —
If they don’t venture, they may never find themselves.

Can’t avoid the chilly hands of winter forever–shall we meet her then?
I’m nervous about the cold–never have slept on the ground before, nope.
Come, let us walk the road that goes ever on and on–so weary already?
I’m afraid of bears, she says.
But your eyes don’t seem to fear anything. What’s the real bear, then?

Fluctuating contours introduce her Are-we-there-yet’s and How-much-farther’s.
And he sure doesn’t give a spit about the type of Jerusalem we’re passing through.
Walking slow to prove it.
Maybe all of it really is just so many boring, boring, burned-out trees.
But I smudge my face with ash and carry on.

Hey, how hard could it be to establish a campsite?
Let me show you.
Traverse down a hill, discover a disappointing and slanted situation, then bear-crawl back up carrying the weight of your world in the pack strapped to your shoulders.
I wanna go back home now, he says.
My bad. I swear it looked decent from up top.
Story of my life, to be honest. (Wonder about yours)
Oh well, she cuts in like a cymbal’s laugh —
The same one who glanced shy at the ground when she told me her name means “beautiful girl.”

Moving slower than a mile an hour
Oh well
Forgot the menu of meal recipes
Oh well
Spilled the store of purified creek water with freezing hands
Oh well
The guys got their own tent toppled just in time for bedtime
Oh well

As for me, laid awake hearing coyotes in the blank night.
Silence too loud to sleep.
Sunrise met with a weak cup of coffee.
Oh well

Time to edge in a couple more miles.
From what I understand, the most nomadic he gets is walking to the 7 Eleven between his house and school.
But now two step with walking sticks to attend to the journey.
Destination: Footbridge.

Sun-warmed granite rocks, level ground above the banks of a rushing creek.
The view looking out towards the Valley.
Can we stay here?
The sunset glows pink and purple. I notice how he sinks into it.
You ever saw a spark ignite?

Speaking of which–
How about a fire tonight?
The smoke and crackle of gathered kindling now warming its crown of hearts.
And the same way a pinecone’s resin cracks open under the melting heat to release its seeds, their hands open.
See what we can do when Together, when Each Other.
You ever watch something grow before your eyes?

And now he’s smudged his face with ash like mine.
Topographic maps spread out with green.
Pointing to the path to El Capitan.
How far?
Nearly 6 miles away.
What happens if we don’t make it?

Has it been an hour yet?
Keeping a store of potential energy, granola bars unwrapped.
Summit, 5 miles away.
What happens if we don’t make it?
Tell me your favorite places to go to in San Fran.
My turn to be the leader, she says.
Summit, 4 miles away.
What happens if we don’t make it?
Retelling difficult stories to make this seem less difficult.
Summit, 3 miles away.
What happens if we don’t make it?
5,000 feet of elevation gain.
Can I borrow some antibacterial for my tattoo?
Of course.
Hey, we need to find water.
Summit, 3 miles away.

What happens if we don’t make it?
The sun started sinking long ago. Cursing the winter solstice.
What happens if we really shouldn’t hike downhill in the dark? Did anyone bring a headlamp?
What happens if we don’t make it?
What happens if —

Back down 5,000 feet of elevation. Maybe next time, kids.

Maybe next time.
Will there be a next time?
Well, will there? And why not?
He shrugs.
But I see him eyeing the cliffs the next day in the gaze of We’ll meet again.

Perhaps nothing quite so inspiring as the road towards home.
A rise at dawn to set out in the sweet air.
Quick enough to the trail to leave a stove pan behind.
But I hear him say, I’m gonna miss the views, though.

Perhaps nothing quite so inspiring as the road towards home.
Not thirst or even the fear of heights can deter.
Climbing over fallen trees and Talus fields.
But I hear him say, I like climbing down these rocks, though, as we race each other down the hill of boulders.

And when I glance back, I see a faint glimmer of Jerusalem in his eyes.

Persephone

As my branches linger in the doorway,
I feel the weight of lives getting pulled out of suitcases, deseeded,
halfheartedly sown about the room,

the nearly worn-out attempt to rearrange the contents in yet another new space.

At this age, the likelihood of Too Late to Un-See and superb marksmanship in the dulling practice of Staying Up Later Than Sanity is almost certain.

I recognize the dying violet shade brushed slight under her eyes, the soft crease between her brows.
Those limbs like oak bones coal-black against the March twilight sky.

But this is the season of sun-spilled green grass and crisp watermelon in the shade.
Time for roots to drink in the warmth of June,
the sweet incense of apricots looking for the spark-eyed soul willing to reach for the highest branches.

And, as my mother always said:
Never rule out the chance for a fresh breeze.
So I smile anyway.
And she smiles anyway, as well —

I catch the scent of sandalwood. Now I know —
not all hope is lost.

Please describe your relationship with destruction

Some people are forest fires
Some people are redwoods —
Can’t grow unless they’re burned.

But oh, do they grow.

Achilles Superstar

He sat at the table writing on the back of her hand, nodding with chopsticks sticking out of his mouth. Achilles Superstar. Rice bowl lunch, clouds. Is that so? Is that–so. Hey, New Found Lost Cause, he sat at the table writing on the back of her hand, nodding nodding nodding. New found lost cause. The chopsticks, leftover from the rice bowl he ate for lunch. Achilles: Superstar. Clouds in the back of your mind, is that so? Glory glory glory, chopsticks drumsticks on the table, kleos. Drumsticks chopping up the back room back-of-the-room table. Drumsticks, chopsticks, blood nebula, wine shopping list. “You’re usage of Blood without saying Blood is perfection.” Ah kill eez superstar, wine shopping list, without You, You & Me, clouds in the back of your mind, kleos, kaleh. Pens drums chopsticks, pens to the dirt, kleos, kaleh Superstar Spin spinning. Out of control.

Oceanography

Never an oceanographer; most often a photographer.

Never a photographer; mostly an oceanographer.

But you lie; sometimes you are a photographer.

And sometimes photography is oceanography.

Our teeth like eyes reflect light when they show.

Do you always just jump in like this?

Well, do you always just snap the shutter open shut like this?

His eyes glowed green.

This is why people hold hands, isn’t it.

The blue blanket flipped and roared.

I sure hope so–

We ducked under the foaming sheets,

Looking out for the place the sun sleeps.