I climbed a mountain and the air constricted breathing—
the terrain of the free spirit, that creature
so dedicated to surmounting that the mountain,
its hanging glacier, its granite slabs cut through
by the trail, its heaps of rocks blocking reasonable
access to the turquoise lake beneath, its wildflowers
with their fraying lackadaisical paintbrushes,
went by in my eyes so quickly I never truly left
the not-yet-turning aspens, carved by local lovers
who loved themselves so much they stayed right
there with their knives until they finished their names.
Copyright © 2019 Katie Peterson. This poem originally appeared in Poetry Northwest, Winter & Spring 2019. Used with permission of the author.