Wednesday, November 07, 2012

A Mountain and Man - Companion Poems

I wrote these poems in 2009, during my Fellowship at the Uconn Connecticut Writers Project in Storrs, Connecticut. 

I am enamored with all things Mount Everest, and read every book I can find on the subject. I wrote these poems shortly after reading yet another book, pondering why certain people have such a drive to climb this mountain. 

I took on both the persona of the mountain and of "Everyman" to explore how nature might "feel" to have humankind scrambling all over leaving chaos in their wake. In fact, they say the mountain is actually shrinking due to the constant climbing. 

There are a few footnotes which are in brackets because I don't know how to superscript on the blog. Like this: [1]. 

“Everest and Everyman: Unlikely Bedfellows” 

To the Mountain:
“Goddess Mother of the World”[3]

You are no mother --
You fling your offspring
From the hem of your garment
And hold yourself high in disdain.

Pilgrimages in vain
To gain your grace
But you play favorites,
Acting the coquette.
Hiding behind your white scarf.
Seeking only worship,
But denying blessing to most
Who come to pay homage
At your throne, and find only
Icy rock, airless space.

Suffocating your children
So they cannot see your face.
You bury your young beneath your dress,
Your cold gaze ignores
The dead ones at your feet.

This is the place where hell freezes over
And like the ancient god, Molec,
Who demanded child sacrifices to the flame,
Your children throw themselves instead
Down ice crevasses,
To be buried in your stony heart.

[1] Highest peak in the world
[2] Sherpa name for Mt. Everest
[3] Meaning of “Chomolungma”

To all Seekers:
You are right to say,
I am no mother.

I do not take away the sins of the world.
You who grovel at my feet
And clamor at my hips
Yellow and red hovels clinging
Like sucklings to a mother pig.

You call me mother,
Then entreat me with
Oedipelian desires, each hungry
To consume their anointed mother
To assuage their lust for glory.

These are not my children who ravel
Their ropes to pin me down.
And each spring rebuild
Their Babel[1] on my flanks.

You worship to ensure your own glory.
Waving flags like rags
Of victory, while excrement
Runs like rivers soiling
My snowy skirts.

Who said I wanted sacrifice?
I used to honor those who came alone,
Without the trappings of an army,
True worshippers who knew
How to step with caution
and breathe with reverence.

I would not claim you as my child—
No child of mine
Steps over outstretch hands to gain a crown
Or walks by frozen eyes that still see
One last chance at life.

Fair warning that I am shrinking
In your estimation,
By naught but your own trammeling
And scraping
At my very bones.

[1] Refers to ancient Tower of Babel built to reach God until work halted when their languages were confounded (see Genesis 5)

I'm curious to hear your thoughts after reading these poems! Thank you!

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