A Poem for the Climbers on El Capitan

Perhaps they are stars ascendant,
These climbers on the Captain’s back,
For do they not sleep suspended
‘Twixt granite and a dusk upended
By headlamps in the carbon black?

Or maybe they are in descent.
Thrust from an unforgiving sky
Into the dirt.  What’s to prevent
A sunken star from compromise?
If it must climb to raise its eyes,
Those eyes still gaze on firmament.

As to the pilgrimage of stars,
With rocks above and rocks below,
An astral dream is equally far
For sleepers hanging just below
Celestial peaks.  Still, so it goes,
And every climber knows they are
Defined, not by reach or station,
But instead by aspiration.


The lights on the side of El Capitan in this picture are the headlamps of the climbers getting ready to sleep for the night, as they attempt their ascent.