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El Naranjo de Bulnes

the picture says it all kind of

there I sit on the summit
of that wondrous mountain
1989 “I ran the world” t-shirt
wearing my boina
in the majest of youth
an effortless smile

even when it was being taken
I knew it was both literally
and metaphorically
a high point

fast forward twelve years
my then wife
her struggles with low confidence
and me
my struggles with PTSD
on the summit again

in that second picture
you can kind of tell
she really isn’t happy
to be there

I thought it would be
a symbolic triumph
for both of us
but the effort of getting her up
added to the even greater effort
of getting her back down
sort of did for me

our last abseil was in the dark
strangers helped us back to camp
everything I had
had been spent
in helping, encouraging, cajouling
sometimes sheer lifting
a person whose fear
had turned her into luggage

a few days later
back at work
on my way back from the toilet
between one footfall and another
I felt a pang
I thought it was flu
that was the moment
that all ’that’ started
the endless treadmill
of ME
the overexertion
on top of the fall
was something the system
just could not abide
the brakes went on
and all these years later
they simply will not
come off

El Naranjo de Bulnes 1989

El Naranjo de Bulnes 2001

HC: 2019