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The Crux

by Vannavee Pornsinsiriruk

One swell July evening
Four figures huddled around a map
Five marked summits in red ink
Three along a ridge and the next two on another
They were to climb all five on the morrow
And on this note the four figures retreated
To charge their energy on thin mountain air.
Several hours later the darkness was broken with the flash of a lantern
As the figures crept up the mountainside
The atmosphere was eerie, daunting
Unwelcome and unexpecting of human life
A feeble sign
But the figures pressed on
In the dimness of the early morning
And the quiet of a groundhog’s sleeping breath
Soon the first summit stood below them
The next four still hidden in the twilight.
Along the summit ridge they walked
Through an alpine pass, barely discernible
As the encroaching sun flashed red along the horizon
The shale rumbled and groaned as the pass sighed a low murmur
Upon the stupidity of human life
Balancing along its unlit spine like mountain goats
Without the vital hooves or hind.
As the figures ached up the arch of the spine
The sun shone above them high and mighty
And then the second summit was below them
Cruxed and dry.
The cycle repeated from the start
And within a turn the figures stood on the third summit
Their shadows forming little black pools in the symmetry of the sun.
Alas the moment did not last and the figures sought
The shade of the mountainside
Deep in the descent gully they huddled
Before they dared to leap
A leap of faith and footing
To the valley tarns below.
The deceptively sweet, clear water ran
On their dry lips and weathered faces
The emptiness of the idyll lost on their minds
Another missed sign.
After rest the figures reluctantly tied in
One by one they entered the tall gaston
The second reach passed them through deadpoint
The third passed the crimped, undercut crux
The fourth pushed to the sloped summit
From the vantage the first figure could see the flagpost
On the fifth, tall and silver
Alas the clouds turned
The flagpost shielded in a whirl of fog
And just as the last of the figures appeared on the peak
Thunder was upon them
Thick clouds enveloped them till the skies and the earth
And their own limbs were a milky grey
The figures cried out against the sharp hail
Attacking from beyond the assuming
Flaked on Niltsi’s mercy
They huddled once more
Contemplating the chances that lightning would strike the flagpost
But they were too far gone
And the milk swathed their sight
Rendering the mountain free of its bearings
And their descent gully without entrance
So the figures gathered their strength and courage
Clamoring along the rocks
The wind howling at them to flee
They breathed the thin, slicing air
Along the ridge they crept, slowly and timidly
Thunder shook the trees and lightning struck so closely
The realm was a singular white radiance
They crept until the shimmering of the flagpost gave way
Then they sprang without halt
Dancing with mercy and the Mother’s compassion
As they tagged the post before jumping into the valley below
A fatal game of chance
Which they all survived
On the whispers of the wind and the alpine pass
And the thousand creatures of the forest
Who spoke of the undeniable stupidity and grit of the foreign figures
And softened Niltsi’s temper
As he lead them back into the valley and to their own realm
With only a colourful tale to tell.

Vannavee Pornsinsiriruk is a student who tries to translate her passion for
the natural world into eloquent words.

The Crux

by Vannavee Pornsinsiriruk
(Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)

First Place: Under 25 Poetry Contest #1
Originally Published in
Wax Poetry and Art on May 4, 2017
World's Best Poems, p. 1
"The Crux" by Vannavee Pornsinsiriruk
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