Climbing Katahdin

by Daniel Hoffman

Hoisting yourself
From fingerniche to toehold,
Approaching the Knife-Edge,

A deep shagged ravine gapes on the one side,
The eye of a blueberry-silver pool steep
Down the dizzydrop other,

Your breath short,
Each rib rasping,
Grasping the thinned air above the timberline,

To the desolate rocks
Below the snowline,

You can believe
As others have believed-
This stony ridgepole bracing

Heaven the longhouse of the mountain,
You breathe his breath.

Hoisting yourself
Atop the spined ridge you'll find
On a slight plateau

Stretching toward the peak's rise
Huckleberries growing
Beside a spring!-you laugh at the surprise

Of it and chew in the icy air
Bursting berries big as birds' eggs,
Your lips and tongue relish the purple-

Then arise from feasting
On silvery frosted fruit
In the desolation

To hoist yourself,
From fingergrip to toehold
Each breath grasping

As high up as the mountain allows you.

The City of Satisfactions

Last updated April 25, 2023