Big Cottonwood Canyon

“Resurrection must be like this” /


Resurrection must be like this,

suspended on a stony lip that juts

obliquely from a wrinkled quartzite face.

My friend had called it Stewart’s

Ridge and said to watch him on

the crux before he vanished in

a cloud of solemn spidery motions.

Soon his shouts blew thin

within the wind around and

stream somewhere below and

rock all wheres above.

I slowly feed the rope and wait.


When you climb the air holds you.

You learn to lean against the sky, to

let the awkward thought of space

impress you to the wall. Your

fingers search out ways to hide

your weight in any barely smear

of stone. Each move is a request,

every granite flaw a grace.


You sense the tightness in your legs

at first, a change in the tone your feet

use to the rock. Your fingers feel

a certain scrape and weakness.

Then: the final gift

of gravity is weightlessness.


The rope between my hands had

ceased its slide some nervous time ago,

a concentrated age in which he must, I hope,

have readied for my sudden weight.

The wall will want to nudge my chalky

fingers off, and pry my cramped and painful

feet from out its cracks. Death

and stone are much alike.

Soon all I know is rope

and see is rock.

I climb and find I

must hold lightly to this life.

Ken Smith is occasionally a programmer and writer, and nearly always a husband and father. He lives in the Pacific Northwest.

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Issue 35 / November 12, 2015
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