It had been many years since he had trekked a really
tough trail, backpacked up a steep difficult switchback.
As a young man he had been dauntless, forged in the fire
of long, cold, deer hunts with his dad when it wasn’t for fun,
when they really needed some venison for the year.
He had not forgotten the struggle for air at high altitude,
the really crisp icy air of a sharply indrawn breath and the
the feeling of triumph that came with cresting a high pass
and pausing to take it all in, hands on knees reaching for a breath
and straightening and rising, gaze meeting the horizon.

The sky and the clouds
And the wind
Are a lazy kind of loom

A last trip in honor of his father, planned to cover as many
wilderness areas as possible over that all too brief summer,
the first realization of the fragility and impermanence of life.
He first tasted the reality of death at sixteen when his mother
had died suddenly during a routine surgery.

The body is merely a robe
A tangled knot
Unraveling with ease

Now he was an old man unable to do anything of the sort,
betrayed by a body that was fading, the same as theirs.
Newly recovered from an extensive and death defying,
major surgery, he had to drive to the top of the pass and gaze
from the parking area on the side of the road.

Clouds evaporate in the sun
What was covered is revealed
Bright blue endless sky