Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ruth Franke: SUMMIT ICE

Setting off from Chamonix, 1040 m above sea level. Destination unknown. "A climb up the mountains with suitable equipment," our French friends had said in their invite. They are keen climbers, we just walkers, they were aware of that. But we had taken them up on it. Now what was in front of us?

a march into heights
at the cable railway halt
a mass of people

Mer de Glace
a jump over glacier cracks
without a rope

Ice Age moraine
the hopping over rocks
never stops

upwards on ladders
the back packs' weight

cut in the rock face
a narrow path
just don’t look down

up there at last
on the Aiguille du Midi
bivouacs in the ice

At 3000 m. An icy wind cuts into our faces, the cold even penetrates the fleecy sleeping bags. Dizziness and nausea prevent sleep. All around the white giants, Mont Blanc looming over us. Rilke comes to mind: "Stranded on the high places of the heart … And the huge bird securely circling the peaks in utter denial."

helicopter throb
nearer and nearer
then just the echo

The cold night gives way to a sunrise behind Mont Blanc. We get ready for the descent.

Broad smiles when we say our farewells down in the valley. "You caught us with your sauna. Now you've got some idea of our hobby."

after the steam bath
the plunge
into cold water
Translation from German by David Cobb

by Ruth Franke
Emmendingen, Baden-Württemberg. Germany
first published in Blithe Spirit 18/1, 2008

1 comment:

Adelaide said...

I enjoyed the virtual climb to the summit of Chammonix. Very descriptive.