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Monday, June 03, 2019


by Pepper Trail

The greatest pile of stone, you are known
by that name that rings in the Western ear—
Everest (after a Sir George, bureaucrat, surveyor)—
not as Nepali Sagarmāthā or Tibetan Chomolungma
and so you must be climbed

In our hundreds we come
we pay, we wait, we breathe from bottles
we ascend ice ladders, we cling to the fixed lines
we shuffle upward through the trash
we never doubt you must be climbed

Gasping in the starving air
eyes fixed on the boots of those in front
or, lifting our heads, on the queue
snaking toward the top of the world
we climb—you must be climbed

Perhaps tomorrow an error will be found
another mountain the highest, and so you
mere goddess of the sky, will be again alone
left to cradle the frozen bodies of those
who believed in nothing but this—

You must be climbed

Pepper Trail is a poet and naturalist based in Ashland, Oregon. His poetry has appeared in Rattle, Atlanta Review, Spillway, Kyoto Journal, Cascadia Review, and other publications, and has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net awards. His collection Cascade-Siskiyou was a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Award in Poetry.