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When you get to the top of the mountain

Pull the next one up.

Then there’ll be two of you

Roped together at the waist

Tired and proud, knowing the mountain,

Knowing the human force it took

To bring both of you there.


And when the second one has finished

taking in the view,

Satisfied by the heat and perspiration under the wool,

Let her pull the next one up;

Man or woman, climber of mountains.

Pull the next hand over

The last jagged rock

To become three.

Two showing what they’ve already seen,

And one knowing now the well-being with being

Finished with one mountain,

With being able to look out a long way

Toward other mountains,

Feeling a temptation to claim victory.


When you ask how high is this mountain

With a compulsion to know

Where you stand in relationship to other peaks,

Look down to wherefrom you came up

And see the rope that’s tied to your waist

Tied to the next man’s waist,

Tied to the next woman’s waist,

Tied to the first man’s waist,

To the first woman’s waist

…and pull the rope!


Never mind the flags you see flapping on

     conquered pinnacles.

Don’t waste time scratching inscriptions into the


You are the stone itself.

And each man, each woman up the mountain,

Each breath exhaled at the peak,

Each glad I-made-it…here’s my hand,

Each heartbeat wrapped around the hot skin

of the sun-bright sky,

Each noise panted or cracked with laughter,

Each embrace, each cloud that holds everyone

in momentary doubt…


All these are inscriptions of a human force that


Conquer conquering hand over hand pulling the


Next man up, next woman up.

Sharing a place, sharing a vision.

Room enough for all on all the mountain peaks.

Force enough for all


To hold all the hanging bodies

Dangling in the deep recesses of the mountain’s


Steady…until they have the courage…

Until they know the courage…

Until they understand

That the only courage there is is

To pull the next man up

Pull the next woman up

Pull the next up…Up…Up.


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