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This. Stones. Bones. Ruins in rock of an ancient creature
built to withstand a hurricane of sleet and snow.
I could climb among these slivered points for days,
watch the root, wooden limbs sliding, as it crawls along the ground.
Bouldering is what I call climbing rocks big enough to gasp at.
Could and would I touch the sky, where the hard meets soft,
where ridge meets cloud? Drip and slide along the stone, those
legs tanned and sorry. Brace body against soul, standing high,
let the sun and wind rip my skin. If the air gushed around
this empty bowl, and startled birds left the selfish shade
of winter branches, I would walk here still.
This, the birth of my last first kiss.
This, the shadow, where I laid, ever thoughtful.

This. I remember walking, unsteady on chubby toddler legs,
while dog barks, shrill and desperate, at cliffs he couldn’t climb.
We drew up there, on that jaggedly comforting edge.
Names and faces smudged in red and yellow stone.
Wandering among the pine trees, I saw the dappled fronds
grow sleepy with cold, and the lichen crept into the cracks.
Sledding, giddily, down sharp and slick dips, with Jackson,
I was unknowingly brash with danger. How innocent the daggers
look when sheathed in snow. The blackberries and raspberries and blueberries
grow wild there, almost as eager to be eaten as we are to eat them.
The path is now leafy with age, and the stones no longer so trodden upon.
This, the cold shoulder where I, drunk with childhood, ran.
This, the lonely miracle tree, growing out of stone.

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  • A poem by Emma McCann.


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