Mt. Whitney - Something Like a Race

30 Oct 1999 - by George van Gorden

Eyes fixed, measured breathing, strident stride.
Ahead a blue shirt and red shorts
Behind two women wrapped in gortex
(We are not the same though here almost)
Whom I have passed but may again pass me;
They are from another country
Which also is part of the race;
And yet all around such country
That isn't part of it at all,
But then I must keep my mind on the trail
Ahead red shorts women behind and the pass
To which it all leads carrying us along.
And then we are there all at once
It seems, a knot of smiling fools
Chugging electrolytes dry fruit and air
Singing drunkenly to one another
Of trivialities - pulse, training, how few ahead
But many behind, pushing boulders uphill
And absurdities - mythiphus Sisyphus
Ourselves at all in all of this.
While opening before us and all around us
Such country
Without circumference beginning or end
Center everywhere there to then
Granite to plasma singularity to stars
And on to infinity and maybe back again
And I, as if
Having been lulled to self by too many switchbacks,
Am suddenly hurled into a Bach fugue
Snuffed out between exposition and development
Where individual voices fade into divinity;
Or am heaved like Balboa
(Though I have not committed natives to the dogs
Nor stuffed myself with gluttonous visions
Of rank and gold, I have thus used this path)
Atop a peak in Darien
Where purged palsied and hollow
He stood silent before the Pacific.
Still following my descent
(And this is the wisdom which keeps us here)
I may search for gold along the roadside,
Look occasionally in the rearview mirror,
Always the dogs are running.

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