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      And when they asked him why, he replied, “Because it’s there”

     – George Mallory, 1924




She rubs her hand in some substance

grips the wavering fiberglass wand

all pointed now in preparation

her short shorts hug long legs

face set, begins her long run in



He’s come a long way up

this mountain slope

up rope, nails hammered into rock

then after a cautious crawl along a jutting ledge

crag to crag a chasm stretches, he gulps

vertigo has never been his foe

yet at this precipice the height deceives

he breathes deep

leg muscles tense




They meet in a Swiss ski chalet

she from Ukraine, he a Himalayan climber

in crippled English assess each other

over long draughts of brew, flickering

flames warming blood in hearth

in ballpoint he sketches out his dream

across the tablecloth, cutlery swept

aside in fierce determination



It’s like this, he says, four thousand meters

above falcon’s view, wild stretch

pounding far below, vein in his temple

beating a call to battle; it’s like this:

world’s highest bungee leap, never before attempted,

hand in hand, a single strand of rubbery silk

free falling like stones flung into a climax of reverberation,

the ultimate adventure.  Yes she says, alcohol warming

desire, looking into his yearning wings, his outstretched

feathers; yes, I want to do this thing




 - Their ancestors had set off in long canoes

 - Comrades in a rocket ship soaring from gravity’s pull

 - Bluebird speeds like an arrow across salt flats

 - “Because it’s there”, he said



Now, no pole vault in her hands

no ladder and no rope in his

they launch out across the chasm

thin figures falling into the world

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© Johnmichael Simon



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