who, in times of trouble, sing a mountain-chant in stone-bass and ice-vowels, smoke swirling from their mouths,
as now my breath rises in dawn-drafts, up into eagle air to be washed by the stars.
I am always on the flagstones of that mule path, waiting for the accentor robin’s morning mantra
before mud thunders down the landslide. I will always climb until it goes quiet
and I can no longer hear Modi River’s roar, just to watch lightning skein the gorge in flash-waterfalls.
Yesterday I trekked almost as far as Ghandruk through monsoon. The trail was a broken cascade.
Just before sunset, a hole cleared in the clouds, unveiled the double dagger peaks,
a hole jagged as Shiva’s third eye, which he may open to incinerate the world.
The flanks gradually whiten in a morning-glory blue and the rising sun lights up the first fin, snow blowing from the tip
until it catches fire. And as I stand still as an unclimbed mountain, hour after hour,