Each step through the scree field must be judged on: angle, stability, slipperiness — but the flat, dry, and robust rock is the one that will roll on you — heaving you headlong, rolling over brick and boulder.
Crossing the glacier, each step is taken both like it won’t fail and like it inevitably will.
The former because one can’t fear one’s hips will slip out from under one, but the latter because one needs to be ready to stab an axe into the snowpack without the other end puncturing one’s ribs.
When you reach the altitude at which stepping is a series of singular activities — not a seamless sequence — you will love breathing like you haven’t since that time you were dangling upside-down outside the womb being smacked on the bottom by a masked man.
The forest floor —
strewn with damp leaf litter
slightly twisted twin-pronged needles.
Fungal fruiting bodies,
caps sprinkled with grit,
stand sentry over the rich, black loam.
The musty smell at life & death’s edge
reigns subtly supreme.
We call it decay, and think it a death stench,
but that ground echoes the ouroboros —
the mythical serpent consuming it’s own tail —
eater and eaten are one —
life and death are thusly intertwined in that dark soil.
“To freeze or flee?” Asks creatures terrified,
when monsters stomp through forests, glens, or fields.
I know what it’s like, standing stuck mid-stride.
Yet, I’m more oft the monster than he who yields.
Maybe you wonder on the monster’s life,
if the fact never occurred to you that you’re
the stomping monster of the chipmunk’s strife.
when you have that most pleasant hike or tour.
The screech, that call, that’s screamed to each and all
is not some passing fancy or fevered
dancing of critters seeking daytime prowls.
They’re warning others they feel beleaguered.
“You must be this tall to be a monster,”
reads a sign no taller than a lobster.