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
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.