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this is how it is
climbing mountains

at first the way
is clear and simple
marked with stones and flowers
full of invitation

at a certain altitude
the trail grows steep and rocky
your breath catches
snow may fall

seeking shelter
you enter a forest
mountain pines enshroud you
blizzards blind you
wind claws you

in the falling light
doubt clouds your mind
fear freezes your heart

don’t look back
already snow covers your tracks
for this is how it is
climbing mountains
in the moonless night
eyed by owls and wolves
you barely sleep
your teeth chatter
you dream of golden fire
and gladly wake

at first light
emerging from the forest
you’re almost blinded

mountains are white silence
sky is blue beyond belief
sun toasts your skin
this scene will steal your breath
still your fear

an eagle eyes you
circling high above

locate the nearest crest
take a step or two
your footprints are the first
to press the pristine snow

higher and higher you go
because you must
higher and higher you must go
because you will

for this is how it is
climbing mountains

Alan Denman

Alan is a British novelist and filmmaker, living close to nature on a boat on the River Thames with his beautiful wife Ayesha and a feisty cat called Lucy. He loves the philosophy of Joseph Campbell and carries this quote inscribed in his heart: "Follow your bliss and doors will open where you thought there were none".

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