Wednesday, August 23, 2006

"Last Hike" by Keith Harvey

Last Hike

Singing is her green talent.
We follow her, summer children, up the mountain.
She sings to bears that we are eight,
a sinister number;
her Belfast brogue buzzing like bees.

With steady gait, her bonny head bent,
she stops at a blind bend.
Beckoned, blue-black clouds appear.
She raises her hazel eyes;
her fairy voice fractures frozen air.
A lightening strike and she sings us together,
a brood hen shooing chicks to cover.

It rains, then snows, then clears.
A loon swims alone on a lake.
A silver trout severs its silk surface.
Chipmunks chatter in the heather,
while ravens circle above trees.

I wear a ruby rain suit, a cabiri,
carrying my twin self.
My lungs labor in duplex
against the frugal air,
my knees ache, as my back bends
under the double load of my pack.
I thrill at her voice but pray
the bears do not hear.

We traverse the tree line,
stumbling on geodes and scree.
The sun burns our faces and hands.
No bears in this thin country.
They are below, fat and dark,
eating berries in the shadow of larch and fir-
so intent on their feast they cannot hear
her Irish song.

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