Mountain Appeal

Past the bodies of the dead when we come down,

eyes frozen open

or frozen shut.  Did they struggle or

sleep to death?

 

Past the near-dead calling in muted tongues,

holding out waxy hands,

reaching for mercy

not given.

 

They knew the risk.  They made

the granular calculations balancing air

and weight and time, sitting

on the thread between majesty

and despair.  They knew the price of failure—

wandering in the breathless cold,

drained in the middle of the death zone,

like opening a vein, fading out

before their lives were

whole.

 

Holy Mother, hear our prayer.