Rich Furman

At one with the mountain

Black umbrellas functioning as trees by day
dot the sky of Volcan Acatenango

The mother we shall die return to shortly
cart wheeling down six inch trail
mud bruise blood covering
what once must have been skin

Did you know that Central America froze
ten thousand feet about sanity?

Searching for answers that now will be found
on green volcano cliffs that mark the end
survival a dream as icicles form to the hair
stalactites of our own drool
Methuselah's beard riddles of revolution found

The mind bends like a willow
stunted like the bonsai
terror and mumbling Zen koans
of becoming one with the mountain
blood soaked hands wipe away
soiled self with a un-ripened corn husk.

Five hours of fantasies of death
composing tombstone epitaphs
my oneness with the mountain
its gawking dark birds
that mock our every step
its torturous biting vines
that beckon the legs to quit
to join its endless center.

Arriving at the bottom
bend down kiss the earth
like Odysseus returning
humble from defeat

Walk down empty road
with legs like bloody red
plantains bending each step.

Three more hours three men approach
machetes glimmer from their hips
the beginning the end not certain
broken insane sleepless tortured Spanish.

Drag us gently to our hotel
a concrete floor two burlap sacs
the smell of the slaughterhouse
wafting though the glassless windows.

Two hours of sleep
and an orange glow ignites the face
stumble to the bus
back to Antigua
a miserable old witch doctor
whose magic potion makes you blind.