and sky of lowlands fail me and I climb the tumble
of six thousand meters, breathless, in the Himalayas.
I leave the clangs of Yak bells behind me, shedding
tree lines, unlacing ravines of plunge.
I peel of millimeter by millimeter of old belief.
I lean into mountains which pull me to them
while cascades rob rock of mineral silt
and as granite and gravity remain indifferent,
I dream of that green milk churning.
I climb past prayerwheels of sun-muted pastel
as veins fill with the release of water,
torrents of cloudy rage over, under Khumbu bones.
Oxygen slides into memory. Blood thickens,
coursing. I come alive, drunk on wind-chill,
as this height. The seize of snow, china white,
smacks at seven thousand (where Boeings fly)
turns bones to glass, and heads to God, inclined.
In this place, the dying zone, the only real belief
is benevolance. Amen and apnoea are both submission.
Sagamartha is addiction. I’ve heard of men blinded,
hypnotized, torn between peak and the safe plod home.
Mesmerised by the crack of glaciers, and the need
to finally look down. Mountaineers, Sherpas alike
are marked on the moraine by stones and flags.
In scree above the Gura red Rhodedendrons, I pause.
Reverence, for the first time in my life, feels right.
Those who’ve never been here call it madness
but the hymns bursting streams are kaleidoscopic.
And if there must be religion, then let this be it.