Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A poem about firefighting: Baptism by Rock

Trinity Alps National Wilderness Area, California; Summer 2008

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Scaling shaley slopes we go
The rim circumferencing;
'Man-goats', we bray, we know
These boots -- they give us manly wings.

We fight the flames, la lúmbre, fire
Incéndio, et al.
But oftendays we simply mount
The slopes, becoming tall.

The ridge induces greater
Height; we know that we are fleet.
Internally we brag
That we are nimble, the elite.

Yet chthonic deities detect
The hubris in our hooves,
Exacting our humility
With penitential shoves.

Bone of mountain meets bone of man --
Like Icharus I fall;
Then, dwell on death for seconds,
Bereft of wherewithal.

My waxen wings are crumpled;
My blood is running now.
Drowned by gravity and rocks
I dangle, looking down.

Bleating now -- not braying,
I curse deceptive shale
Jesús descends to save me
From my minerally jail.

He bears me up -- ¿Esta bién?
I give a sheepish nod,
Incredulous, embarrassed
For having mocked my God,

Then palpate my contuséd flesh
And, lo! I am not dead --
Though blood, not ichor (mind you)
Trickles forth from leg and head.

I have no leaves, no bark, no roots
As do the scrubby trees.
Solomon in all his splendor was
Not dressed like one of these.

Rootless, then, it is my lot
To climb beyond my grasp
'Foot cannot feel, being shod,'
And, thus, I move too fast.


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