Back to Issue Thirteen.





Here is Muldrow Glacier, and here
are Camps Six and Seven.

The dotted line running up this side
is the route of ascension.

Over there is Archdeacon’s Tower. Here
and here are probable sights of bivouac.

This is where his sleeping bag was sighted
but not recovered.

It was wrapped around a pole as though
a signal to no one.

X marks the axe—
also seen but not recovered,

like the bodies of three other climbers:
X  X  X — schemata of the mountain’s stigmata.


In theory, a map is useful: it renders two-
dimensional what exists in three dimensions,

or in this case, no dimensions, unless
we’re counting time, which is like

wearing both shoes on one foot. In fact,
a map’s convenient, able to be folded up

and carried in my pocket, opening and closing
like a lung. But in the end a map is useless,

only gravity’s graffiti and snow’s slow pentimento.
Unrepentant map, no X marks the mountain’s fontanel,

its loosely woven selvage he fell through into, the legend-
less depths of the wild mind, the memory      leaving us

only this permanent impermanence, this paper tattoo
breathing in and out the black ink of not knowing.

Jessica Goodfellow’s books are Mendeleev’s Mandala (Mayapple Press, 2015), The Insomniac’s Weather Report (Isobar Press, 2014), and the chapbook A Pilgrim’s Guide to Chaos in the Heartland (Concrete Wolf, 2006). Her work has been featured in Best New Poets, Verse DailyThe Writer’s Almanac, and Motionpoems. She has received the Chad Walsh Poetry Prize from the Beloit Poetry Journal. A graduate of Caltech, she lives in Japan.

< Previous (Michelle Turner, “Once Wrote”)

 Next (Cassie Pruyn, “Lena’s Summer House in Rockport”) >