The Open Road

Open Road

 

Drifting snow snakes across the highway,
Steaming like a young woman’s dreams
Of the life she left behind her,
In the rear-view mirror, no more to be seen.

Far ahead stretches the long and lonesome road,
Curving over hill and dale,
Reaching ever forward to horizons,
No arrival, always on the trail.

Mountains yet stand sentinel,
Sheathed all in white,
Passes to be crossed between
Today and endless night,
That which came before her, and
Ahead still out of sight.

Precarious to navigate,
Downgrade in low gear,
Long-haul truckers keeping
Company with her fear,
But the tires keep their traction
And she puts them to her rear.

The tires sing out their lonely
One note melody,
The white line draws a promise of
A brighter future yet to be,
If she can but follow and
Open eyes to see;
He is far behind her and
Now she’s finally free.

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Go Far

Ama Dablam and Kangtega in the Solukhumbu range of the Himalaya

Ama Dablam and Kangtega in the Solukhumbu range of the Himalaya

A thousand miles and more
Beyond the Bosphorus and the Levant,
Far along the Karakoram Way,
Past the ancient city of Tashkent.

Dusty Kathmandu beckons,
With Thamel’s every trackless street,
Spin the wheels at Boudhanath,
And the temple monkeys to greet.

Looming distant beyond the valley,
Rising above the smoke and haze,
Gleaming, jagged, white with summer snow,
The Solukhumbu commands your gaze.

From Lukla’s first tilted landing,
And the winding paths of Namche Bazar,
Along narrow depths of the Dudh Kosi valley,
Steep trails promise to take you far.

The welcoming arms of Ama Dablam
Smiling over the milk river below,
Guarding over the school in Khumjung,
Tengboche’s chanting, yet still far to go.

The Pheriche valley is a welcome path,
Stone homesteads and herds of yak;
A sombre memorial at Thokla Pass
For those who didn’t make it back.

Wild horses roam Lobuche;
Gorak Shep, last chance for tea;
The Khumbu Glacier is now the road,
High Himal everywhere to see.

Nuptse looms, Pumori beckons,
Kala Patthar provides the view,
Yet still you press on farther,
Unsure of what you came to do.

The Khumbu continues upward
Beyond the grim and frozen fall,
Inexorable, rising, air ever thinning
Beneath high Lhotse’s mighty wall.

Steeply ascending, jumars on the rope,
South Col will be your final rest,
A camp too high for long to stay,
So press on to the final test.

Lamplight climbing, past Hillary Step,
Sunrise on the last ridge line,
Gleaming on all the peaks below,
You stand now there in bright sunshine.

Sagarmatha holds you in her arms,
Upon her grace you now depend;
The Roof of the World, Peak Fifteen,
Look quick, it’s time to descend.

The world all lies below you,
Nothing now stands as high;
Yet you cannot stay, it’s not your realm,
If you linger you will die.

A fast descent, a steady walk,
Back down the valleys below,
The villages and teahouses greet you,
Another traveler, with their welcome glow.

Of the high places of the world,
Stories you now have to tell,
Yet what you will remember best
Are the people who helped you well.

Tsering, Pemba, Pasang, Phurba,
Without them you would surely fall,
Lhakpa, Dawa, Mingma, Dorje,
There beside you, and sturdy all.

In your armchair by the fire,
You still see their faces clear,
The Sherpa of the Solukhumbu,
To your heart remain forever near.