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Wonder's Darkness

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Wonder's Darkness

Wonder’s Darkness
             by Odin Roark

He knew wonder well
It could cancel fear
And bestow courage
A nexus for survival

A predawn beginning
His solo-climb of the face
Thought crazy by doubters
Had started swift and easy
The results of plans
Rehearsals
Confidence

The wall’s darkness was his own
Anchoring piton after piton
Securing each meter of ascension by feel
With unharnessed confidence of mind

For this was a climb of defiance
Knowing few if any
Might or would
Ever understand his exhilaration
His unique love of climbing-chalk and sweat
Carabineers and rope
Anchors and ascenders
Tenuous connections to life
All married to his inner eclipse 

Yet at the halfway point…

Exhaustion appeared
Adrenalin waned 
His pendulum traverse had missed
Time seemed to stop
Flesh and rock collided 
Bringing cold panic 
Seizing breath to hold
Suspending threatened fate

Even as the skill of a spider
Had kept him safely vertical until now
Death’s harassment had not been part of the plan

His back rested against cold granite
The lead taste of blood from his nose
Conflicted the balsam and cedar fragrance
Gusting up from the valley floor
Fifteen hundred feet below
His straight down reality

Minutes passed…

Awe and respect
Life’s often ignored necessitude
Hung together with him
Against the sheared mountain 
Some predicted his dreaded finale 

With tenacity as partner
Calmness merged with a blanket of sunrise warmth
The crisis became the past now
This test of tests faced completion

His mind eased back to a climber’s trust
Careful feeling about
Delivered firm grips
Precise movement
Renewed determination
Moving him deftly toward the descent team’s cheers
Waiting on distant topside

Resisting aid
He reached the summit
And gathering minutes of needed rest
Even amidst the accolades and glee
He prepared for the hard part
The trek down the backside

This blind climber knew
Like those with eyes to see
Exhaustion can make even a simple return route
More dangerous than the climb

With the descent team
Assisting his tired body
The crude trail carved
For bushwhacking
Brought danger often missed
Until it was too late
Loose scree
Roots of trees
Ruts and rocks

With sightless vision
He maneuvered the precarious path
His certain smile becoming contagious
Moving shaking heads of doubters once
To embrace a blind climber’s wonder
As their own




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