Poems: The Climb
The cascade called Bridal Shower looks lovely from down below,
light-embroidered veil flowing to my feet
the way I wanted the world to come to me.
You urge me up the first circuitous paths
toward the water's source; heavy with fear
I hesitate, question the need to ascend.
"How many times will it be now?" you tempt.
I heft my pack and begin climbing, the urge to joy
singing in my blood, tugging my muscles
with the pull of primordial claw upon land.
I swing my body behind yours,
more sure-footed than I expected.
I keep pace, stopping for wordless breathers;
time to admire where we've been.
An upward glance charges our spirits
as suddenly, our struggles a dream, we arrive.
Applause from the surge of stream roaring
over the edge is sweet with the will of what made it:
a song I thought I'd forgotten!
Rainbows dance in the spray as the falls lunge
to their death, only to find the apex again
as we have today. Silently we descend,
smiling support to other climbers,
returning to the earth we knew,
Arlene Gay Levine
"The Climb" won Second Place in the 2020 New York
Encounter Poetry Contest, Crossing the Divide.