At midnight, snow is patterned glass.
Diamond bathroom window glass.
Our crampons spike its surface with command.
It stirs ambition as the halo of our torches
spot the mountain walls.
A fissure here, a jag’d rock there,
a crevasse, a cornice, a frozen cataract.
At dawn the snow reflects the sky
and we stand unroped and dumbstruck
as sky and snow paint violet, pink,
then glorious gold, and herald in
a day of peerless blue
and snow that’s satin ribbon white,
as white as cirrus cloud.
Midday snow’s a bloated fiend,
that grabs our feet with both its hands,
and drags us deep in wet morass,
a mire of melting crystal flake
that slows us to a crawl.
A crawl. A crawl. Damn this snow.
Will the summit ever come?
But the summit is a precious cone
of snow so sculpted,
formed and whipped
that we rejoice,
that God made mountain tops.