Thursday, July 15, 2010


I've been thinking of changing the name on this blog, but I think I'll just keep it til the term evolves back into meaning simply the animal.

This bastard below's been driving me crazy all week, and I woke up at 5, with one of my sleeping daughter's languid, long, skinny arms flailing me in the face, feeling like I had it. (She's sleeping with me to soak up as much security as she can before she goes off to camp by herself.) I can only aspire to the brevity of the epigraph.

The River, from the Other Side

"I go to sleep on one shore,
wake up on another."

--Raymond Carver

I always suspected the side
Where I lived was the comfortable side.
Today I look on its green slopes,
But I'm not sure if I was right.
Peligroso, Peligroso,
There are signs on both sides,
Some rusting at the bottom of waterfalls.

I've watched people on the rocks
Of this side, from that side,
And wondered how they did it.
Here now, I see there are paths,
Some wide enough for two, passages
Between the points and slabs.
I rest my hands flat on the blazing rock
And read the hatches in the stone, in my skin.
What's crossed won't be uncrossed;
Not a step taken back.

The guide gave me the reasons
Women are better climbers:
Patience was the first. They scan,
Imagine alternative scenarios,
Then act. The second is the hips.
It's not in your arms, it's never
In your arms, he tells me.
He tells me: You can do this.
(Like they say to you in labor:
You can do this. But I couldn't
Let go, I couldn't clutch at
Those hands and pull.)

I think I believe I'm like
A drowning person: Don't
Touch me, I'll drag you down, too.
Throw a stick my way, let something
Come between us, save yourself, but
I would die before I took your hand.
A lifetime has tried to teach me
What I touch, I hurt.
I could believe this is true
Of the rocks and the river, even these.

He's on the rock above me,
Already carrying the lion's share,
Still reaching out his hand.

Photo: Seneca rocks, third-scariest thing I ever did.


Will H said...

I think I've hiked Seneca Rocks -- Frank and I drove out there from Canaan Valley, WVa a year or two ago. Gets pretty hairy up near the end.

Nice poem too.


Slothrop said...

Really beautiful - and a great use of elemental imagery (skin, labor, drowning, lion...). The 3rd part shook me up a bit; found me out I guess.

The gender thing seems correct. It reminds me of when I was very young & climbed a bubbling volcano in Java. I had heard others had climbed inside, & I felt invulnerable so I just went for it. Locals on the other side of the rim started screaming at me. They saved my life.

I tremble a little whenever I remember it.

Maria Padhila said...

@slothrop ;) glad you're still here

Maria Padhila said...

@will glad you're still here too. we did the one where you climb the rings in the rock. you could hear me cussing all over the valley as i tried to make it around that fin.