How your legs take you—shuffling and chuffing, last in the race—
from one mile-marker to the next, along a suburban avenue
where the pickup hauling volunteers dulled by bubblegum and gaming
waits for you, no one visible ahead and no one behind,
before they collect the orange plastic cone—your humble lodestar—
and drive on to the next marker, where again
they wait for you.

And how, stymied mid-trail on the mountain
you outwit that awkward rock
too tall for your hiker’s stride. You’re stuck
as in charades when there seems no practicable gesture
until you signal “Sounds like…,” and go on.
It’s just that one step needs to be three,
or four, or five.

And how the shelter where yesterday you stayed the night
—at the time, damn close enough to ozone—
drifts down and back in your wake like a bucket in a pool,
until it anchors on that once-daunting crest
that your ascent reduces to ridgeline, ridge
after ridge rippling into the hazy distance as you reach
the knife-edge summit.

How you keep hitting, hitting until
you can’t see, as the air indigos, and the balls loom
soft as globes of hydrangea in a dim graveyard,
dissolve, and you swing at darkness.

How blues hardened into rock.
How your hair dried in the sun.
How fault lines settled into your brow.

How you came to understand.
How you relinquished.