I The climb up lasts forever.
Skis slung on our backs
we kick steps up six hundred feet
in a proud laborioso,
filled with easy chatter
under noon’s blue dome.
II The descent begins–
a placid three-turn glissando,
skis sliding across April corn
like butter knives spreading Velveeta.
III Then before I can blink
my Karhus slide sideways
up into the air over my head
and my shoulders start plowing mush
straight towards the rocks my mind remembers–
a two-hundred-pound tumbleweed
courting death in a fateful accelerando.
IV One thought erupts with force:
You have to stop yourself.
I lash at the snow pack with my poles
in a relentless stacatto
and watch my mounting kinetic energy
bend them into sickening arcs.
V Five hundred feet down
my right ski spears a mogul and holds,
as I flap around it in a helpless furioso
like a flag in a gale. Bones torque out
and decide to stay together.
VI My ski buddy Dr. Jane
makes it down The Claw
with far less fanfare,
in time for the dying strains
of my ego’s pianissimo requiem.
She’s off in a swirl
and I hobble down Mount Washington alone,
re-spinning this bright yarn of pride.