For Phyllis Munday, Mountaineer (1894-1990)
You call me from the intricacies of words
into microcenters of ice, frozen ledges,
crampons clamped to mountains’ makings,
you, who knows the allure of goddess peaks,
moving among them without delusions of conquest,
brace-kneed in snowshoes, confident as a lynx,
breathing into your muscled body,
ditching your skirt under a bush, hiking
in bloomers that catch on twigs, salal,
with a 32-kilogram pack hoisted on your back,
ropes looped and taut, you ascend the peak—
Mt. Robson, highest in the Rockies.
I’m with you, first woman, caution-killer.
In your fearlessness my fears dissolve
until we approach Mt. Waddington.
It is summer and snowdrops, but this time
the mountain will open to us, this mystery
moulded in rock and ice will open her arms.
This time, we shall rise to her sweep and poise
since there is nothing that good knots,
guts, and luck can’t win over in time.
Susan McCaslin, an established Canadian poet, has published fifteen volumes of poetry, including her most recent, Into the Open: Poems New and Selected (Inanna, Sept. 2017). Her Demeter Goes Skydiving (University of Alberta Press, 2011) was short-listed for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize (BC Poetry Book Prize) and first-place winner of the Alberta Book Publishing Award. Susan resides in Fort Langley, BC, where she initiated the Han Shan Poetry Project as part of a successful campaign to protect an endangered rainforest along the Fraser River. www.susanmccaslin.ca
To view other poems published in this issue please visit Vallum’s website.
Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE!