The mountain shudders under great weights of gusts and snow,
groaning and creaking
the six English climbers huddle rope-tied
to rocks and tree branches listening for avalanches.

And I sit here,
at this metal patio table,
so arbitrarily square,
in a humid afternoon swatting flies and wondering
what I will have for lunch.

The lead climber slips, his hands blackened with cold,
his feet slithering up snow banks packed tight in ice—
the only woman on the team is eating snow
with thinning mittens, even though she knows
it will give her diarrhea in minutes.

And in my black-backed patio chair
I cross my legs,
with the thought that
the post office is not open when I need it to be.

High-altitude edema kisses the climbers,
cerebral here, pulmonary there; frostbite
chuckles sink deep into open pores
the mountain is laughing and at play with it all

And I am trying to care
but it’s difficult, you see,
with the nagging feeling
that I’ve got to pee.


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