A poem a day in April from Rutgers English PhD students and friends.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Reflections on "The Summit"

To summit K2 is
To see the shadow of K2
over China. To spend May 
avoiding avalanches. To walk
on ice. To hold your country's flag
high over your head over the world.
To try for the summit for sixteen days.
To share the summit with eighteen people
and plan to drink heartily with them after.
To plan to drown, slowly, but not slowly enough. 
To cling, but not to fall. To fall suddenly, 
from your wife’s side. To perch on the mountain’s side
for sixty hours. To say, "I'm going to sit down for a bit"
and for that to be the last thing you say.To discover 
that in fact you are a burden, that your friends and lovers
are strangers too, that you are estranged even from yourself, 
that you are slowly going mad as you slowly drown. To discover
that the person the media didn't interview was the one 
who knew what really happened on the mountain that day.
To discover who will have been heroes and who will not. To discover 
that you will not have memories you can believe, only what others think
happened. To summit K2 is to play Russian Roulette with K2. To lose 
but to have thought you were winning. To lose fingers and toes and not to let
that stop you. To endanger lives. To go to the extreme. To write about it 
in magazines. To write nothing at all. To bring nothing back. To contribute nothing 
to science. To ask not how, but why. To regret it all profoundly. To feel guilty for surviving. 
To go out and do it again. To survive, only to die on a different mountain. To be addicted 
to the climb. To ask loved ones to understand. To haunt the ice queen you will become. To 
see the sun set behind K2. To join a small elite group of adventurers. To make history. To do it 
with or without oxygen. To find out how resilient your body actually is. To say no to future 
children or the ones you already have. To widow your wife. To save yourself. To save others
and die doing it. To save others and survive for a while. To fall off the mountain and get right 
back up again.

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