by Sandy McKinney
called me up the mountain.
Halfway I vowed that if my knees
turned backward like a bird's
I'd still go on. Once I looked down.
The valley sucked at my breath, its tiny lake
flashing like a lady's compact.
My will let go even before the fear,
but fingers have their own will.
They've grown clever as roots
at finding crevices to creep into.
I can't remember when the silence first began.
All the bright day I climb, my ear tuned upward.
It's nights I shrink against the cliff-face
begging the wind to offer me a sign
if I'm the first one here, if I imagined the bells.
Reprinted with the author's permission. This poem appears in McKinney's collection, Body Grief.
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