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Gary J. Whitehead
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Here in this hard place, my face to the gales
amid the crags the past sculpts,

I search the glacial slope for my father's
loping form and for the proud boulder

dropped like a briefcase on a kitchen floor.
What more is there at the end than the harsh wind

of words to recall the climb, the myth a burden
drives into bones as deeply as a life of work,

the falling and the gathering up, the falling
and the gathering up of hope and always

something farther beyond the topmost rock,
so that now I can see my indefatigable father

high above the sea of apathetic faces
with his tie loosened and his hair gone gray

fathering thoughts of letting the stone roll
from his tweed shoulders, and down on his knees

nearly relinquishing optimism the way these
stunted trees, regaled by wind and thin air, collect

themselves into themselves yet remain ever green
and alive even this high, even this untouched?

I have known the withering and the giving in,
the withering and the giving in to weakness

always and the breath that comes easier after
rolling back down into valleys, and the fog a child

loses himself in purposely for the need to be unguarded,
what I grope through even now, blindly downward,

scrambling with the balding weight I carry for a time,
drop and let roll, carry for a time, drop and let roll.


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