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ISSUE:  Spring 1969

The cloud moves off the escarpment.
The man is seen on the granite face,
A spider, hanging for a long time
Motionless, splayed, by instinct.
He has found better footing. He traverses.
Now he is coiling the rope. He will hammer
Another piton in the raw rock, fasten
The rope, let himself down the web, patient,
To the ledge. Then he will loosen
The rope, and coil it, hammer another piton.
Then he will traverse again. Perhaps.
Perhaps he will choose the crevasse,
Inch down, pressuring, feet to rock,
Back to rock, a passionate arch,
This levering of bone, educated
Against the mountain,
Caught in the man’s web.

He stops, and sleeps. The mountain, too,
Rests. The wind frets, the rope whines
Delicately. The lichen digs in deeper,
Against the invader; the eagle screams,
Safe in the pale air, uncertain of safety.

At last the man comes out of the mountain,
With the soot of the rock upon him.
As a birth. His friends go to meet him.
They touch him as a new child,
A wonder. They make noises, making
The web tremble. For a time
He does not recall those noises.
For a time, those noises have difficulty
Coming to him through the captured rock,
The enormous web, the body
Of the mountain, the body of the man.


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