In Some Ways


On a mossy rock under a cliff overhang
I pass out cushioned in the crevice of summer
and wake to sheets of sleet.

Beetles have claimed so many trees,
so many dead reddish trees.
It almost leaves me to hope
all the wisps of smoke
from all the four a.m. campfires
would combust with the light
of each bird-screeched morning:
Across the dewed dells
of the Rockies, alpinists climb
from tents, alpinists collect
tinder in the slender sun,
alpinists refuse to believe
it could ever be winter.

But it is, in some ways, and it has been before.
What happened to spring? What happened
to fall? What happened to the moments
of emotional cushion, when I had
the heel hook just right, the rope
tightened through the carabineer just so,
and I never gave one thought to a tumble
to the jagged rocks eighty feet below?
The season is evaporating like coffee steam
and I can’t put the lid on the Thermos
fast enough. There’s duff everywhere.
There’s a decision in the air
and I can’t quite gulp it down.

I need something to roast on the spit.
I need something to char, and then chew on.
As this day ashes the next one
weighs heavier, the next one
is dandelions, it is indistinguishable berries
to a weary hungry hiker.