from where i sit

from where I sit
i can see the foothills
rising to rocky, snow-covered peaks

the hills, stretching in every direction,
are covered in
neat rows of houses, mansions

earth moved and
reconstructed
to house refrigerated air and
and clean windows

and if i close my eyes, i can imagine
the hills
naked

or clothed in
pine forest and grass prairie
antelope and deer
turkey and mountain lion
roaming in
equilibrium
*
at night, driving along the hills
a deer comes into view, grazing on the roadside
struck by the headlights, frozen
eyes bright

mentally, i capture this image
finding it so strange and meaningful

i recall the childhood game i played
“find what does not belong”
and i ask myself,

is it the deer that does not belong on the asphalt, under the streetlight, among the rows and rows of houses, unending?

or

is it me, in this car, riding along the carcass of the alpine meadow, among the skeletons of trees resurrected as towering houses
taking up space
taking away space
from where it belongs?
*
from where i sit
behind the glass window
on the second floor of a
house on top of a hill
overlooking the meadow rising to the
rocky, snow-covered peaks

i am struck
not by the beauty of the landscape

but by its scarring

and my own hands

-A

the highest peak in the valley

The morning after we climbed Blanca, my whole body felt heavy with tiredness, yet light with inspiration. I lay in bed, returning to the side of the mountain and the boulders that angled up towards the peak.

That morning, we dragged ourselves out of our tents into the dark, cold mountainside. We felt the miles we had hiked from the valley floor the day before in our steps, but our steps were much lighter without the weight of our packs.

Through the dark, we navigated ourselves through endless switchbacks and boulder fields, small alpine lakes and streams – precious water trickling below us as we passed. Each foot we gained in elevation, our lungs gasped a little more for air.

The rising sun finally greeted us as we we made it to the ridge between Blanca and Ellison Peaks. There, my whole body screamed with fatigue, a lack of oxygen, but my heart and mind could not wait. I split off from the others, still slowly climbing each boulder, but with each step, adrenaline pulsed through my veins.

After a while of scrambling, walking on all fours up the boulder ridge, I made it to the peak, and it was quiet – perhaps 8 or so in the morning. The sun warmed my bones that were made cold from the miles in the frigid morning.

I collapsed onto a rock and sat, breathing with relief. I propped my head up with my arm against my leg, alone, until a marmot made her way near me.

I’m not sure if it was the surprising feeling of believing myself to be alone, but suddenly discovering that I was not, but for the next couple minutes, I sat next to the marmot and cried.

I had made it to the highest peak in the valley.
I could see everything.

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