Not the Ascent – a poem by Nora Kirkham

Not the Ascent 

I was growing with the mountain, 
and rising to meet its breath. 
I found my filled hips level with the glacier, 
and lifted my eyes to it as I was taught to do, 
blinding myself blue with the frosted sky. 
I asked the mountain if it would hold me,
and before it could reply, I knew it was not 
the ascent I wanted, but something else. 
It was chasing the last glint of moon 
on a fox tail, running off trail 
through a cloud of wet flowers, 
and sinking into their cold honey 
as each stem towered above my spine. 
It was listening for that ongoing 
clang of cowbells swelling in each bud, 
until I no longer cursed the spiders 
living below for bites that bled black. 
It was remembering how I had passed 
this field so many times and wondered 
what would fly from its waving grass. 
The stillness asked me where I was 
and I did not know how to answer. 
I had not been looking at all. 
Now, I was growing again with the mountain,
falling to meet its breath through each tree 
entering my lungs, until all I carried 
was the wind and the wind was carrying me. 
I asked the mountain again if it would hold
my body and bring me closer to itself, 
to love me beyond all disbelief.
It was not the ascent it wanted from me,
but something else, and it was blooming. 

Nora Kirkham is a writer from Maine currently based in Scotland. She was raised in Japan, Australia, and Eastern Europe. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from University College Cork, Ireland. Her writing has been featured in Rock & Sling, Clayjar Review, Ruminate Magazine, Tokyo Poetry Journal, and St Katherine Review

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